Riverside County could issue almost $730 million in bonds to whittle down its $3.5 billion pension debt, a move meant to save money while tackling a massive, growing and chronic expense that looms over county finances.

The Board of Supervisors last week voted 3-2 go to the bond market to pay 20% of the county’s unfunded pension liability. The Tuesday, March 17, vote doesn’t mean the county will sell bonds right away, but it sets the wheels in motion to get to that point.

Even before the novel coronavirus pandemic upended the global economy and everyday life, county government faced another challenge – how to address a $3.5 billion debt that threatens to grow and consume already scarce dollars for police, fire protection, and other public services for the county’s 2.3 million residents.

That debt, and what the county pays to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, was projected to grow through 2030 – and that was before COVID-19 sent markets into a free fall.

Read the whole article in The Press-Enterprise.

This article quotes selections from “Riverside County could borrow $727M via bonds to cut pension debt,” by Jeff Horseman in The Press-Enterprise, 3/24/2020.