Faced with Our New Fiscal Reality

Faced with Our New Fiscal Reality

As an employer, the County of Tulare offers a wide range of salaries and benefits to its employees. The Total Compensation packages we offer reflect the County’s commitment to invest in our staff who are our most valuable assets in delivering efficient and effective public services.

It is important to understand what exactly Total Compensation is comprised of - it’s not just the salary and wages reflected in your paycheck.

A Total Employee Compensation package includes various benefits. For the County of Tulare, these added benefits include: health insurance, vision and dental insurance, bilingual pay incentives, car allowances, the sick leave buyback program, retirement plans, and other additional contributions made by the County.

Each benefit program has a cost to the County and a value to our employees who utilize them.

As an example, in the FY 2017/18 Budget, the County will pay out $270 Million in employee salaries. In addition, staff will receive another $84 Million in benefits – health, retirement, and other pay incentives.

On top of that, the County as an employer must also provide additional contributions to its employees that vary in cost year to year ranging from $16 - $23 Million. Additional County contributions include sick leave, life insurance, long term disability, defined contribution match, tuition reimbursement, workers compensation and others.   

Although you may not see the value of these benefits listed on your paycheck, they are a significant portion of your Total Compensation package.

One major component of County employee’s total compensation is the benefit of a retirement plan. All County full-time employees become a member of the Tulare County Employees Retirement System. Both the employee and the County contribute, and pay into this system. 

Currently, we are faced with a new reality: unfunded liability in our County retirement system. It has grown drastically in recent years.

As of June 30, 2017, Tulare County’s unfunded liability is $344 Million, an increase of over $100 Million from the liability as of June 30, 2016. The primary reason for this increase is the decision to reduce the County’s assumed rate of return from 7.60% to 7.25% based on recommendations to the Retirement Board.

Consequently, both the employer (County of Tulare) and the employee’s contributions into the retirement system will rise. We estimate these increases will be 6% for the County and 1% for our employees.

As the discretionary revenues in Tulare County’s general fund continue to be obligated to cover these increases, future Boards of Supervisors will have to make some difficult decisions related to the allocation of dollars.

Will money be allocated to increase salaries? Cover increasing health insurance costs? Pay down the unfunded liability in the retirement system?

As Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, I can assure you, government efficiency and fiscal responsibility remain a top priority of the Board that I serve on. I am hopeful that some of the efforts undertaken by this administration will adequately prepare the County for a sustainable future that lies ahead.