Do You Have An Appropriate OPEB Document?

Do You Have An Appropriate OPEB Document?

Due to the rising costs of health care and health insurance, pressure from union bargaining partners, and the application of the “equal contribution rule” for public agencies that provide health coverage through CalPERS, many California cities and special districts...

COVID-19 Pandemic May Force Some Cities to Reset Employee Benefits

COVID-19 Pandemic May Force Some Cities to Reset Employee Benefits

As the harsh realities of the coronavirus pandemic, along with its widespread impact on all aspects of daily life, continue to shock and numb us all, many cities have already been identified as “high risk” from a financial stability perspective by the California State...

Making Sense of Your Retiree Health “Savings” Plan

Making Sense of Your Retiree Health “Savings” Plan

Several municipal clients adopted retiree health savings plans or post-employment health plans, and continue to have questions about what they are and how they should be administered. Unfortunately, these arrangements are not always fully explained when they are...

Chapter 31: Is Your Comp Time Immediately Taxable?

Chapter 31: Is Your Comp Time Immediately Taxable?

Compensatory time off or "comp time" is paid time off taken in lieu of pay. In the case of State and local governments, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows them to provide non‑exempt workers with comp time in lieu of overtime. State and local governments may...

Chapter 30: Some “Elections” Do Work

Chapter 30: Some “Elections” Do Work

Previously, I've written about the pitfalls of giving employees "too much choice" with respect to their pay, their paid time off and other benefits.  Employee elections that are not properly designed can unexpectedly result in current taxation under either the...

Chapter 29: The “Misunderstood” Group Variable Annuity Contract

Chapter 29: The “Misunderstood” Group Variable Annuity Contract

Group variable annuity contracts are often used to wrap mutual funds to provide greater revenue to plan providers or to provide access to an insurance company's stable value fund. Every public agency 457(b) plan or 401(a) plan that offers a stable value investment...

Chapter 27: Do You Have a Proper Cafeteria Plan?

Chapter 27: Do You Have a Proper Cafeteria Plan?

The recent Ninth Circuit decision in Flores v. City of San Gabriel focused on the circumstances under which the value of certain non-cash-wage benefits (such as those provided under "cash-in-lieu" programs or cafeteria plans) must be included in the determination of...

Chapter 22:  Social Security Replacement Plans – An Introduction

Chapter 22: Social Security Replacement Plans – An Introduction

For many American workers, the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program serves as an important component of their retirement savings. This is not necessarily the case for the millions of workers whose State, local government and public agency...

Chapter 21:  Auto-Enrollment For Some Non-ERISA Plans

Chapter 21: Auto-Enrollment For Some Non-ERISA Plans

One of the more compelling recent trends in the world of tax-deferred savings (i.e., 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans) has been the growth in the use of automatic enrollment, or auto-enrollment, features.  In a typical auto-enrollment situation, the employer enrolls...

Chapter 20: Opting Into A Pick-Up Plan

Chapter 20: Opting Into A Pick-Up Plan

A recently issued IRS private letter ruling (PLR) puts the kibosh on the fairly common practice of allowing public agency employees to elect whether and at what level to participate in the agency's mandatory contribution pension plan. This plan design stems from...

Chapter 15: Giving Employees Choices Can Sometimes Lead To Problems

Chapter 15: Giving Employees Choices Can Sometimes Lead To Problems

Because many of our public agency clients have collectively-bargained employees, we continue to see a variety of efforts by employers and their bargaining partners to make the most of limited compensation and benefits dollars.  Sometimes, the parties believe that they...

Chapter 10: Are You “Bitaxual”? If So, Watch Out!

Chapter 10: Are You “Bitaxual”? If So, Watch Out!

This entry comes to you with the help of my colleague Wendy Tauriainen. In our office, we enjoy the inside jokes of the pension and benefits world (yes there actually are jokes). One of them is the label "bitaxual" for those entities that are lucky enough to be both...

Chapter 6: The New Year Brings Compliance With Pension Reform

Chapter 6: The New Year Brings Compliance With Pension Reform

Although there has been much talk, good and bad, about California's recent attempt at public pension reform, the fact is that the Public Employees Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) is now the law of the State and public employers are obliged to comply with it. FIXES...