City Manager Jeff Kolin sent a letter to the Beverly Hills Courier last week challenging the newspaper's reporting on the city's budget surplus and employee pensions.
Kolin focused on two points in a Feb. 8 front-page article headlined "City Of Beverly Hills Short $106 Million For Pensions" with a subheadline that read "Mayor Willie Brien’s 'Surplus' Fake; Debt Jumps $23 Million Since 2009."
"To say there wasn't a surplus because the City still has unfunded pension liability is like saying someone who received a raise at work didn't really get a raise because they still have a home mortgage," Kolin wrote.
The city manager also challenged the Courier's claim that the pension fund for government employees in California, known as CalPERS, returns less than 1.5 percent on its investments.
"A better indicator of long-term results can be found by looking at CalPERS' historical rates of return since 1990," Kolin wrote. "Not counting 2012, the average rate of return over that 22-year period was approximately 8.5 percent. It is debatable whether such a return can be achieved in the decades going forward, but by any measure long-term earnings have far exceeded the 1.5% reported by the Courier."
The newspaper defended its reporting in a website posting Friday:
"The Courier relied on as the source for its article, as well as information directly from City Hall. ... The Beverly Hills Courier stands by its reporting of the current pension deficits, future deficits, and its questioning of the alleged City 'surplus' for the current year."
Kolin's letter, which the newspaper has not published, is posted above as a .pdf file.
Click here to access the Feb. 8 Courier article.