2007-10-31 / Opinions

Unfunded county pension liability is not being addressed

Dear Editor,

I applaud your efforts in asking all the candidates the same questions and printing their responses. We know that we are having to use bond referendum after referendum to pay for capital expenditures, and we are steadily falling behind.

I would like to ask the candidates a question about what I would consider something that is being just swept under the rug. If you go to the official Chesterfield County Web site and look at the latest financial statement reported (2006), you will note an "unfunded pension liability" of almost $200 million.

This in itself isn't all that concerning as all of these benefits would not have to be paid at one time, although we will eventually have to make up this deficit. The problem is that our local government is allowing this deficit to grow astronomically each year. This figure can be adjusted very easily by changing the parameters and/or assumptions made by the accounting firm doing the estimates, but this is real [money and is] not something that will go away.

There is a fiduciary responsibility of our supervisors to make sure we do not dig ourselves into a hole we cannot get out of without either reducing benefits or increasing taxes. Do the candidates even know about this problem, and if they do, what would be their solution to correct the problem?

Sam Shiplett


In the Aug. 15 edition, the Chesterfield Observer reported ( the unfunded pension problem to be $600 million over 30 years. Some reports are estimating the figure to be even higher. Editor

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