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California Briefing / Santa Ana

County weighs pension appeal

August 04, 2009|Tami Abdollah

Orange County supervisors will consider in closed session today whether to appeal a roughly 2-year-old lawsuit against the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs to roll back increased pension plans approved in 2001.

In July, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Helen Bendix rejected the county's argument that the plans violated state constitutional limits on deficit spending and were a gift of public funds because the retirement benefits were granted retroactively. It was the second time Bendix has rejected the county's suit. The county has spent nearly $2 million in taxpayer money on the legal fight as of June 30, according to county records provided to the union.

Wayne Quint, president of the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, said the lawsuit has been "very, very expensive" for the union.

"I don't know what they're going to do . . . but I would imagine this should be and hopefully will be vigorously debated, because enough is enough," he said. "They have a loser, they know it, and in this economic crisis we're in, to spend any more taxpayer money on this loser is ridiculous."

But Supervisor John Moorlach, who has been a major proponent of the suit, said it's important to see the case through because of its ultimate cost savings. He said the county's unfunded liability is currently $3.3 billion.

"We've always said, from the beginning, that this would probably go to appeal," Moorlach said. "It may go to the Supreme Court. Now that most of the costs are out of the way, it shouldn't be too much of a fiscal burden to see it through."

The county has through Sept. 14 to decide whether it will file a notice of appeal.

-- Tami Abdollah

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