Dave Rice 7:21 a.m., May 23
San Diego City Auditor Cites Retirement System's High Costs
A performance review by the office of San Diego city auditor Eduardo Luna has found room for improvement in the way the city's long-controversial pension system is run.
"Our audit found that when compared to peers, SDCERS’ administrative expenses—approximately $15 million in fiscal year 2010—are higher, its plan funding level is lower, and actuarial assumptions are more conservative.
"However, the contentious history between SDCERS and the City uniquely impacts its current operating environment and leads to additional expenses for the system," according to a summary document accompanying http://www.sandiegoreader.com/documents/2011/oct/25/sdcers-full-audit/"> the full 88-page September 30 report.
"Specifically, we found that numerous, ongoing lawsuits have resulted in higher-than-peer legal and actuarial costs; efforts to maintain independence and transparent decision-making contribute to higher personnel, rent, and information technology expenses; and measures to protect its Board of Administration trustees if they are personally named in a lawsuit have resulted in a $550,000 annual expense for fiduciary liability coverage.
"However, even after accounting for the uniqueness of SDCERS’ operating environment, certain administrative costs still appear high compared to peers, and we noted that opportunities exist to streamline operations and reduce costs."
The report goes on to say:
"We found also that SDCERS’ investment management expenses for fiscal year 2010 were higher than peers, largely because its investment portfolio was almost entirely actively-managed—as opposed to assets invested in passively managed funds, which carry significantly lower fees.
"Lastly, we found that the City spent almost $100,000 in fiscal year 2010 to reimburse high-income retirees for their Medicare Part B Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) premium even though this benefit is not explicitly defined in the Municipal Code.
"In addition, the City could reduce expenses if it offset Industrial Disability Retirement (IDR) benefits by income recipients receive from outside employment and/or a Workers’ Compensation award."
The full report contains separate responses by system CEO Mark Hovey and Risk Management Director Greg Bych.
Pictured: Eduardo Luna