As current Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo campaigns for Humboldt County Supervisor, one of her, one of our, greatest challenges is the debilitated financial situation of governmental agencies.
In 2015, Eureka started paying down its pension debt with a $900,000 payment, a yearly debt payment that increased to $6 million in 2021, is currently scheduled to increased to $8.4 million in 2029 and continue until 2038.
In 2015, HumCo had $220 million in pension debt but could only pay 21 percent of its $28.5 million obligation. Now, just six years later, in 2021, HumCo announced its pension debt increased to more than $330 million. In response to this huge increase in pension debt, HumCo brings forth the projection that its pension contributions will increase by $17 million per year for at least the next decade. This means additional payments of, for example, $17 million more in Year 1, $102 million more in Year 6, increasing to $170 million more in Year 10. Total increase in Humco pension spending over the next decade: $935 million. (HumCo also has $250 million in deferred maintenance.)
Add Eureka and HumCo pension debt payments together and we have over $1 billion, yes, over $1 billion ($1,000,000,000) in funding taken away from services over the next decade.
It will take a tremendous amount of creative thinking and many bold steps to overcome this $1 billion loss of funding for services and get things done.
Thanks for listening.
Patrick Cloney, Eureka