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Old Mendocino County Courthouse Around 1915

California County Pension Debt


Mendocino County's Pension Debt

Immediate Causes of the Debt

Other Immediate Causes of the Debt

Immediate Causes of Unfunded Pension Debt

Choices -

Immediate v. Fundamental Causes

Inadequate Investment Profits

Not Enough Money Invested

The "Excess Earnings" Fraud

Retained Profits Even Worse

Actuary Built In Debt

Other Immediate Causes


As we've seen there are three major immediate causes of Mendocino County's unfunded pension debt - each of which caused roughly 25% of this debt.

  • Inadequate Investment Profits
  • Not Enough Money Invested - or Unfunded Pension Increases
  • Diversion of So-Called "Excess Earnings" to Pay Retiree Healthcare

There are many other less-impactful yet still significant immediate causes of this debt, including:

  • Increases in Total Salaries in some years was much greater than the Actuary was told to assume
  • The County didn't pay what it was supposed to into the Pension Fund in a number of years
  • Higher rate of disability retirements than projected
  • Errors made by Actuaries in calculating required contributions

There are others as well. County and Retirement Officials should have made sure they understood each of these immediate causes of the County's unfunded pension debt and taken actions to prevent them from creating more debt. Unfortunately, for the most part this hasn't happened.

I won't dig into these less-impactful causes - you've already had to wade through a lot of muck just to get to this point. And we've still got a ways to go to "finish" this story.

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