Some retirement trustees are questioning their actuary’s calculation for splitting the annual pension cost between the city and its employees, saying the City Charter states that workers should be picking up a bigger chunk of the cost.

As a result of the difference in payments, the city paid $20 million more than the workers this year. Splitting the cost evenly could save the city about $10 million, San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System trustee Tom Hebrank said.

Of the “normal cost,” which is the portion of the city’s annual pension bill that pays for the cost of that one year (not its payment on the $1.4 billion debt), the city paid 57 percent of the tab for this year. Employees paid 43 percent, according to the actuary.

Hebrank asked the pension plan’s staff to investigate why the two aren’t equal despite language in the City Charter that states that the normal cost should be split into “substantially equal” parts between the city and its workers.

Gene Kalwarski, the actuary for SDCERS, was on vacation but is expected to report back to the retirement system’s staff Monday, pension Administrator David Wescoe said.

SDCERS trustee Bill Sheffler said the Pension Reform Committee recommended equalizing the normal cost’s breakdown between city and employee. Sheffler was a member of the PRC.

“I believe this deserves some study,” Sheffler said.

Sheffler said he suspects that the actuary calculated the workers’ portions using outdated rates that have been in place for a long time. He said he thought the pension board, which sets the payment rates for the city and workers, ignored changing rates in the past, despite the expense of new pension benefits.


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