No Symbolism Here

by Jonah Goldberg

San Francisco’s city pensioners make more than the average city worker.

Here’s some fun facts. OK, maybe not so fun, depending on your perspective.

The average retiree from San Francisco city government earns an annual pension of $46,272, according to the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System. The average retiree who worked at least 30 years in city government earns an annual pension of $76,981.

The average pension for a retiree from the Fire Department is $108,552. From the Police Department? $95,016. And everybody else? $41,136.

The figures show most retirees aren’t getting anywhere near the fat packages that outrage many city residents – like the $264,000 pension paid to former Police Chief Heather Fong last year.

But city retirees are doing pretty well compared with working San Franciscans. Census data show the median family income in the city is $86,546. Per capita income is $44,373.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi is gathering signatures to place a measure on the November ballot that would require city workers to pay far more of their salaries toward pensions. Currently, most pay 7.5 percent of their paychecks, but some highly paid employees would pay double that in bad economic years under Adachi’s plan.

“I think it’s interesting that the average pension paid to a city employee is higher than the average earnings of most San Franciscans,” he said. “When you start looking at the total cost of these pensions, it’s through the roof.”