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Editorial: PERS is eating our cities, schools

City of Astoria’s management has been proactive; others not so much

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Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 11:12 am | Updated: 1:23 pm, Tue Feb 19, 2013.

PERS is eating Oregon. Evidence of the state workers’ pension system’s voracious appetite was in our Wednesday and Thursday editions. We reported that the demands of the Public Employees Retirement System “siphons off more than 8 percent of (Clatsop County) school districts budgets.”

PERS costs are now 10.6 percent of Knappa’s school budget. They are 10.1 percent of Warrenton’s and 7 percent of Astoria’s. Feeding PERS demands requires cuts in spending on students’ classroom education.

Gov. John Kitzhaber told the Oregon Legislature that, “In this next biennium, the cost of primary and secondary education is going to increase by more that $1,000 per student. Half of that $1,000 – $500 per student – is accounted for by the increased cost of PERS alone.”

Not everyone in civic leadership gets the PERS threat. In our Wednesday installment, Warrenton and Gearhart managers did not give evidence of PERS’ immediate threat. Astoria’s city manager and city council have been especially proactive in seeing the PERS juggernaut coming down the track. Astoria’s challenge is no less difficult, but the town is well served by management that is making plans.

Our series tells you why it is essential that the Oregon Legislature act to mitigate the demands of PERS. This is a challenge they must meet.

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