If readers remember only two figures from the Foundation’s new analysis, “Fixing ABQ: Fiscal Policy,” we’re hoping they are these:
● $33.3 million
● $60.2 million
The first sum is what the City of Albuquerque is legally required to contribute to its employees’ pension plan.
The second sum is what the city actually provides.
Regular employees of the city are members of the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). It’s an absurdly generous, defined-benefit system that has unfunded liabilities in the billions of dollars. Like most pension plans, it involves employer and employee contributions. But as noted in the city’s latest comprehensive annual financial report, “the City has elected to make a percentage of … employees’ contributions.” In the 2016 fiscal year, the legal requirement for Albuquerque’s share of PERA was $33.3 million. Its actual payment was $60.2 million.
In a city plagued by economic malaise and rampant crime, such a giveaway is wildly unsustainable. We’ll know that Albuquerque’s new mayor is serious about turning the Duke City around if he or she wages a campaign against the outrageous perk — as well as other unfair, unaffordable largesse to public employees.