The Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association (CCCERA) is an independent governmental entity, separate and distinct from Contra Costa County. It administers retirement benefits for the County, 16 participating agencies and retirees from 8 formerly-participating agencies.* The system has over 18,000 active and retired members and manages over $5 billion in assets. CCCERA’s unfunded actuarial accrued liability – for which taxpayers are liable — is $1.48 billion. But its meetings are held in shadows with little transparency about its decisions and operations.
Because Contra Costa residents are served by several of these agencies, they’re obligated to fund CCCERA pensions for multiple employers. Due to this cumulative effect, taxpayers have major skin in the CCCERA game.
One would expect a government agency of this size, reach and importance to be fully accessible to the public, in a manner similar to City Councils. Instead, the CCCERA Board of Trustees meets on weekdays, with limited public participation, and makes no audio or video recordings of its meetings publicly available. Board minutes record actions, but exclude discussion. As a result, crucial Board developments are unknown to all except those in attendance.
At the September 12th CCCERA Board meeting Kris Hunt, Executive Director of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, asked the Board to make audio or video recordings of its meetings available on its website. In her letter to the Board, Hunt states:
CCCERA is a $5 billion public pension system providing . . . benefits to 17 public agencies. All of these public agencies currently are experiencing budget strains to varying degrees . . . Given the financial impact of CCCERA’s decisions on the services offered by these agencies, it is only fitting that the public receive access to full and complete information regarding Board meetings . . .
Later in the meeting County Supervisor John Gioia acknowledged that meeting recordings would come in handy to resolve Board disputes regarding meeting minutes – such as the one, ironically, that occurred at this same meeting. It is expected the Board will consider Hunt’s request on a future agenda.
For any government agency that controls $5 billion in taxpayer dollars, making recordings of Board meetings seems like the least it can do.
* Per CCCERA’s 2011 financial report: Currently, Contra Costa County and 16 other participating agencies are members of CCCERA. The participating agencies include: Bethel Island Municipal Improvement District; Byron, Brentwood, Knightsen Union Cemetery District; Central Contra Costa Sanitary District; Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association; Contra Costa Housing Authority; Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District; First 5 – Children & Families Commission; In-Home Supportive Services Authority (IHSS); Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO); Rodeo Sanitary District; Superior Courts of Contra Costa County; Contra Costa Fire Protection District; East Contra Costa Fire Protection District; Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District; Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District; and the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District. In addition, CCCERA administers retirement, disability, or survivor benefits to retirees or beneficiaries of the following former participating agencies: Alamo-Lafayette Cemetery District; City of Pittsburg; Delta Diablo Sanitation District; Diablo Water District; Ironhouse Sanitary District; Kensington Fire Protection District; Superintendent of Schools – Contra Costa County Office of Education; and the Stege Sanitary District.