LAFCO shenanigans

By From page A4 | March 06, 2013

Shenanigan, according to the Random House Dictionary, is “wily and dubious conduct” with a secondary meaning of “mischeivous nonsense.”

That pretty well sums up what’s been going on at the Local Agency Formation Commission, whose executive officer apparently tried to slip in a pension contract customized for himself.

Self-dealing might be another description that fits.

County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn has been in high dudgeon about the contract that gave the LAFCO executive officer credit for his time in an Assembly legislative fellowship while he was in college. This is not something that is part of the county’s version of its contract with the California Public Employees Retirement System.

And why does that matter? After all, CalPERS will allow credit for time served on a junior college student council if a public agency so allows it, Harn noted when discussing the issue with the Taxpayers Association of El Dorado County Monday.

It matters, because LAFCO has “piggybacked” onto the county’s contract with CalPERs since 2001.

And this arrangement really shifted into shenanigan high gear when the LAFCO director, acting on “verbal approval” from a CalPERS employee, stopped making payments to CalPERS in November 2011, according to the county auditor. Verbal approval? Give us a break. Is that really astute administration?

“LAFCO’s failure to make payments to PERS is a violation of its Memorandum of Understanding with the county and a violation of its contract with PERS,” Harn wrote.

And it will “cause the county PERS rates to increase,” according to Harn.

Meanwhile past LAFCO employees and its past exec are on the county’s PERS contract, while the current exec and one fulltime employee are going to be on a separate contract, which in the end will prove costly to LAFCO. LAFCO, by the way, is force-funded by the city, the county and special districts.

It’s time for the LAFCO board to start reading the fine print. It is the obligation of every board member to read a contract before voting to sign it. Most people read every document when buying or selling a house. Why wouldn’t the LAFCO board read a contract that will obligate the taxing agencies — and ultimately the taxpayers they represent — to higher pension costs in perpetuity? And what is the expense of making up for over a year of not paying into CalPERS for two LAFCO employees? What penalty payment comes with that?

LAFCO meets next March 27. It’s time to stop the pension Gangnam Style dancing. And no more shenanigans.

Mountain Democrat

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