Feckless politicians can’t say no to unions, so cities go bankrupt and taxpayers get screwed

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Richmond has cut about 200 jobs — roughly 20% of its workforce — since 2008. Its credit rating is at junk status. And in November, voters rejected a tax increase that city leaders had hoped would help close a chronic budget deficit.

“I don’t think there’s any chance we can avoid it,” said former City Councilman Vinay Pimple, referring to bankruptcy.

A major cause of Richmond’s problems: relentless growth in pension costs.

Payments for employee pensions, pension-related debt and retiree healthcare have climbed from $25 million to $44 million in the last five years, outpacing all other expenses.

By 2021, retirement expenses could exceed $70 million — 41% of the city’s general fund.

Richmond is a stark example of how pension costs are causing fiscal stress in cities across California. Four municipalities — Vallejo, Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth Lakes — have filed for bankruptcy protection since 2008. Others are on the brink.

Read the whole story in the Los Angeles Times

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