I want you all to know that this month has provided me with more personal satisfaction than ever before and I just want to thank you all.
This month has included some new experiences for me. The biggest of these was when the California State Controllers Office responded to an email I sent them. What I had done was to forward a posting that dealt with the questionable reporting practices by both Santa Barbara County and their Retirement Board. I asked my contact at the Controllers office if there was anyone they felt might be able to help me with my concerns. I doubt 24 hours had passed before I started to receive phone calls from their office.
Initially responding Deputy Controller Terrence McGuire gave me the impression that he was serious about investigating my concerns. He shared with me what the process was going to be and even asked me to supply him with some additional supporting documentation. After he concluded his review he stated he would than check with the Controllers legal department and we would go from there.
As a week than ten days passed I saw a change in his efforts. From one that had started with a let me see what we can do. To one that stated there was nothing to address. Of course I was not satisfied with this.
As usual I am able to use information created by others to prove my point. In this case it is the emails passed around by the Controllers office in their attempt to explain my (Importance: High) concerns away, so lets review them.
Thursday, July 21, 2011 4:10 PM To: several people Subject: Retirement Publication Question
I’ve got a question on our retirement publication – and specifically about the Santa Barbara County System. Apparently, past year amounts for actuarial accrued liability and the actuarial value of assets changes in reports issued for subsequent years. (The years I’m looking at are from 1988 – 1996.) Can you refer me to someone who can provide an explanation or some background?
From: xxxxSent: Friday, July 22, 2011 2:01 PM To: several people
Subject: FW: Retirement Publication Question Importance: High
The change between years you are seeing is a result of GASB Statement #25.
As stated in our 1996-97 publication on page xxxvi:
Due to the new actuarial method requirements in GASB Statement No. 25, the information in detail sections for the Summary for Funding Position is different as compared to the 1995-96 Public Retirement Systems Annual Report for most of the public retirement systems.”
GASB Statement #25 – Financial Reporting for Defined Benefit Pension Plans and Note Disclosures for Defined Contribution Plans (Issued 11/94)
This Statement establishes financial reporting standards for defined benefit pension plans and for the notes to the financial statements of defined contribution plans of state and local government entities. Financial reports for post employment healthcare plans administered by defined benefit pension plans and for the pension expenditures/expenses of employers are included….
It goes on to say: “The provisions of this Statement are effective for periods beginning after June 15, 1996.”
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Bureau Chief, Local Government Policy and Reporting California State Controller’s Office
Division of Accounting and Reporting
Now this email cannot be the correct answer to my concerns because it fails to explain on of the main aspects of my complaint. How can a pension that was originally reported in 1986 to the Controllers Office as having a 225 million dollar value and 102% funded. Have that data altered ten years later and reduce the originally reported funded ratio by 32%? Not to mention the changed values between the 1995 and 96 audits.
More Documentation Concerning the Retroactive Change of Value to our SBCERS Pension Fund Between 1995-96 and 1996-97 Reports.
This posting will have data from 1986,and 88 as well as 1995and 96 in order to see the concerns in the proper time line. There we also be links so you can review complete yearly reports to verify my findings.
Now here we have the Controllers office labeling that email as high importance and not only do they fail to satisfy me they fail to address the question at hand as observed in this last email.
Sent: Fri 7/22/2011 2:02 PM
To: Terry McGuire
Subject: FW: Retirement Publication Question
Terry, the following response should address the question of why there are differences in the two reports for SB.
Hello even xxxx agrees that my concerns have not been correctly addressed. Now Terrence must not have been paying attention because he than emails me as if these emails verified his explanation.
Subject: FW: Retirement Publication Question
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2011 14:13:38 -0700
From: TmcGuire To: sb_magic
Please see emial below. I will try to call you this afternoon.
So after all that they also did not answered the second half of my original concern as well.
How can the SBCERS pension currently claim to be 1 BILLION DOLLARS UNDER FUNDED IF THE FOLLOWING VALUES ARE CORRECT?
First that we started in 1986 with a pension that was 102% funded and with a value of 225 million dollars . Than this pension went on to average a 9.3% yearly net investment return for the next 24 years . All the while being consistently over funded by 30% for the same time period by the County. How can that be you ask? Well you see since the 9.3% return rate was more than a full percent higher than the desired assumption rate of 8.0. This would require the County of Santa Barbara to contribute at the minimal yearly combined rate of 12% and not the documented yearly average of 17%, The 17% represents a normal average rate rounded up to 12% for the 24 year time period. The additional yearly 5% comes from the alleged underfunded obligation for the same time span. Wait what ever happen to the 24 years of exceeded investment returns that the 9.3% yield produced? It is because of these types of contradictions that I went to the California State Controllers Office in the first place.
So I challenge the current reported funding levels by whom ever wishes to present them. Since 1986 I can prove with County documentation that the SBCERS pension exceeded every bench mark set for it thus making it mathematically impossible to be anything but currently over funded.
Inclosing the California Controllers Office was quick to respond to my correspondence, So why has every current Santa Barbara Board of Supervisor and Auditor-Controler Robert Geis failed to respond to any of them?