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CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / L.A. COUNTY

Retirement funds OK -- for now

October 22, 2008|Garrett Therolf

If there is trouble to be found in county finances, officials have worried it would be in the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement system -- which has some 92,000 employees paying into the program and more than 50,000 benefit recipients. But so far, years of good economic times are keeping trouble low, the system's manager said Tuesday.

Since the county's contribution to the pension fund is based on the fiscal year, officials will have to wait until June to determine whether losses from the current global financial crisis will require the county to make up significant shortfalls to the $38-billion investment portfolio.

Earlier this month, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said he was worried that the county might have to contribute a "nine-figure" dollar amount to cover losses. LACERA's chief executive, Gregg Rademacher, Tuesday called Yaroslavsky's prediction "within the range of possible outcomes."

Already, the pension fund's investment portfolio in June of this year was worth 1.4% less than a year earlier. That alone will add annual retirement costs to the county equivalent to about 2% of the payroll by 2011, officials said. The losses will be paid down by the county over a 30-year period or may be offset by a rebound in the market. Payroll is currently $6 billion a year.

-- Garrett Therolf

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