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Marin County, California

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Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits N
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying N
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Public records N
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Local taxes Y
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Transparency grading process
Marin County is one of 58 counties in California. San Rafael is the County seat.

Website evaluation

Main article: Evaluation of California county websites

The good

  • The names and contact information for all board of supervisor members is available.[1]
  • Board of supervisor meeting agendas and minutes are published.[2]
  • The names and contact information for all administrative officials is published.[3]
  • Budget and Tax information is published.[4]
  • Information on building permits and zoning is available.[5]
  • Information on contracts is published.[6]

The bad

Lobbying

Main article: California government sector lobbying

The county pays for services of the lobbying firm Alcalde & Fay.[7] In 2008, Marin County reported $80,000 spent on lobbying the federal government.[8]

For 2007 and 2008, Marin County spent $397,483 on lobbying the California legislature.[9]

Public pensions

Main article: California public pensions

In Marin County decades of rising public-sector salaries and generous pension packages have turned into short- and long-term public debt that have generated questions from taxpayers, according to the Marin Independent Journal. Rising pension costs have been a driving force in the county's elimination of nearly 200 jobs.[10]

The Marin County Board of Supervisors is convening an educational forum to provide the public with information and a wide range of perspectives on the issue of County employee pensions. The event is at 6pm on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, located at 200 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael.[11] Topics include:

  • An explanation of pensions currently offered to Marin County employees
  • A review of county government’s ability to fund pensions now and in the future
  • An update on the Governor’s proposed pension reform plan
  • Varying options to reduce the County’s future pension liabilities
  • Opportunities for audience questions and comments throughout the evening

The crowds at the Marin County pension forum were told a worst case scenario would include the sale of public spaces to pay for pension liabilities and other budget problems.[12]

To meet new public pension financing rules, Marin County, along with five others, would have to dedicate all of their existing property taxes to pay for pensions or pursue municipal bankruptcy through the courts, according to a report by Moody’s municipal credit rating agency. Moody’s proposed changes in evaluating pension funds are:[13]

  • The assumed rate of return on pension fund investments will be lowered from 7.75 percent to 5.5 percent. The lower the interest rate on pension fund investments, the larger the cash contribution required by employees or counties. Public pension funds have assumed unrealistically high investment return rates based on inflation during the Mortgage Bubble.
  • Municipalities will be required to catch up on its unfunded pension liabilities in 17-years, not the 20 to 30 year period now used.
  • Full payment of borrowed principal and interest – called full amortization — will be required in making pension payments. This means that level payments will be required, not graduated payments that start low and rise over time.

Actuary Audit

A $60,000 audit will be conducted of the actuary who reviews the Marin County pension system. Pension trustees on Wednesday hired Milliman to examine the work of EFI Actuaries. EFI Actuaries has handled the county pensions for five years and has not been audited. Officials said it was important to conduct an audit.[14]

External links

References

  1. Board
  2. Meetings
  3. Org Chart
  4. Financial Documents
  5. Building Permits
  6. Contracts
  7. Client List
  8. [1]
  9. State-Level Lobbying and Taxpayers: How Much Do We Really Know?, Pacific Research Institute
  10. Marin Independent Journal, Editorial: New year a good time to tackle issues, Jan. 1, 2012
  11. Mill Valley Patch, County Hosts Public Pension Forum, April 3, 2012
  12. Marin Independent Journal, Marin forum on 'sustainable public pensions' draws big crowd, and a grim warning from former supervisor, April 4, 2012
  13. Fox and Hounds Daily, Moody’s New Pension Rules Would Bankrupt Six Cal Counties, Jan. 16, 2013
  14. Marin Independent Journal, Trustees launch audit of Marin pension actuary, Aug. 8, 2012