[Solano County] Vacaville council to consider advisory committee to analyze benefits package

The Vacaville City Council will vote on the establishment of an advisory committee to go over the city’s Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) package at Tuesday’s meeting.
The creation of an advisory committee was one of several recommendations made by the Solano County Grand Jury in a June 25 report, which opined that the city’s OPEB package for retirees was “not sustainable” and could lead to a loss of employees and services to citizens if not addressed.
The specific recommendation was to establish an oversight committee to study the OPEB package and make recommendations to the council. Staff initially did not support such a recommendation, noting in a previous staff report that the city was making progress in addressing the city’s unfunded liability and that a citizens oversight committee was not necessary for the time being.
During the public comment session at the Aug. 27 meeting, the public disagreed and stressed that the council take the grand jury’s recommendation into consideration. Councilmember Mitch Mashburn said that he was not in favor of it being labeled an “oversight committee” but felt an advisory committee would be appropriate.
The council ultimately voted to look into formulating a methodology to establish a citizens advisory committee and bring it back at a later meeting, while otherwise approving the city’s response to the grand jury report.
A recent staff report by City Manager Jeremy Craig outlined the requirements for a citizens advisory committee. The group would be tasked with reviewing all current information related to the OPEB and analyzing existing as well as possible alternative methods to manage OPEB costs and liabilities. The group would meet for 120 days, at which point a report would be submitted to the mayor for the council to review, and the committee would be retired.
For a recommendation by the advisory committee to be forwarded to the council, it would need to be approved by a majority of the committee, be legal, provide a quantifiable fiscal impact, take the city’s current and future retention hiring needs into consideration, consider the impacts on city service levels and consider the likelihood of being negotiated with the city’s nine employer groups since retiree health care is a negotiated benefit, Craig wrote.
The group would be chaired by the city treasurer, and the mayor would be able to appoint four additional residents who have experience in either employment benefits or accounting and finance. It would be staffed by the city manager, director of administrative services and other administrative services staff that work directly with the retirement health care program, as necessary. Staff time would be limited to around 20 hours per month to minimize disruption to current city projects, Craig wrote.
Staff recommends the council provide direction on the proposed parameters for the group and approve the creation of an advisory committee.
November 11, 2019
The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich