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LETTERS -- City Manager Rick Cole Responds

Thanks, Laurence and thanks to you and Dominic for both your volunteer service on the Advisory Committee and your concern and willingness to continue to serve our community. I certainly agree with you on the need to involve our citizens in meeting the challenge of long-term fiscal sustainability.

I won’t quibble with your characterizations of the Moss Adams report. For the record, however, if you cite the long-term pension obligation as demonstrating that the City spends “all it takes in and more,” then it would only be fair to point out that the City has net assets over a billion and a half dollars.

It’s an unbalanced picture to cite the $461 million liability without citing the $2 billion in assets in the form of cash, investments and valuable physical infrastructure.

The City’s net assets, as you know, are the second highest per capita in Los Angeles County.

As you also know, the City has ended the year in the black by approximately $10 million for the last three years -- which allowed us to make a $45 million advance payment on our PERS obligations last summer, a number not yet figured into the calculation of the unfunded liability.

We are the only City that I know of in Southern California besides Newport Beach that has made an advance payment of this magnitude.

That said, as we’ve discussed, I agree with you about the threat of the pension challenge -- as does the City Council.

I look forward to working with you and a broad range of citizens to ensure the City’s long-term fiscal sustainability and set realistic and responsible targets for achieving that. The Council, the Audit Subcommittee and our staff look forward to productive discussions about how best to do that.

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