City is investing in PARS fund

Taft is hedging its future against rising contributions for employee pension costs that threaten to curtail public services in the future.
It's investing money in a Public Agency Retirement System (PARS) account to supplment CalPERS contributions and get a higher rate of return, more control and more flexibility with the retirement contribution.
The Council voted in September to open a PARS account with $2.5 million and last week the City Finance Committee voted 3-0 to take a fairly conservative approach to its investments in the fund.

One the motion of Councilmember Josh Bryant, who sits on the committee with Mayor Dave Noerr and Treasurer Ben Mangum, the committee voted 3-0 to recommend to the entire City Council that the City invest 30 percent of the money in "moderate" risk/return and 70 percent in conservative" risk/return.

The vote was one of several items on the agenda for an hour-long meeting last week.

In other business, the committee:

•Got an update on the City's financial condition at the end of the first quarter of the 2018-19 fiscal year. It's largely incomplete because the City, like most government agencies, spends money at a constant rate through the year but receives its revenues in several large payments, like property taxes after the December and April deadlines and sales tax revenue at the end of each quarter.
So, there's not much money coming in since July, giving the impression the City is running a deficit budget.

"The first quarter always sucks because the revenue hasn't come in," Noerr said.

Finance Director Teresa Binkley said its not even close to being a good indicator of the City's financial health.

"In the first quarter you can't even begin to predict where you're going to be," she said.

By the second quarter, the first property tax payments come from the county and city fees like business license fees and other fees start coming in in significant numbers.

"That's going to give you a better picture of where you are," she said.

•The committee also heard an update on some of the spending already going on. The Public Works Department is going to spend less than the $100,000 it had budgeted for a full-size water truck and instead get a "Water Buffalo" tank trailer to use, City manager Craig Jones said.

The water Buffalo can hold a 1,000 gallons of water and the City can now have money available to purchase a medium duty truck for Public works.

Overtime costs are up for the Taft Police Department for the first quarter, but some of that cost is being covered buy lower salaries since two officers are off.

The City has used nearly half of its budgeted overtime money in the first three months.