In a final push to get a consensus pension-reform measure on the ballot this fall, San Francisco’s public-employee unions are lobbying hard for a change in accounting procedures that experts say is legally dubious and would cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars in the long run.
The proposed change would allow the city to pay vast sums it owes to the pension fund over 10 years instead of five. The change would save the city about $30 million a year over the next few years — but would cost the pension fund considerably more than that over the course of the decade because the fund would have less capital and thus lower investment returns.
Leaders of the public-employee unions, under pressure to sharply increase their members’ contributions to the fund as the city struggles to close a $306 million budget gap, pitched the accounting change to David Chiu, a mayoral candidate and the powerful president of the Board of Supervisors, in a meeting Tuesday.
Mr. Chiu seemed wary after the briefing. “We can’t postpone finding solutions,” he said, adding that the pension reform that has been promised by politicians and unions for months “needs to demonstrate real savings.”
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