Paramount Fact Check
The claims addressed on this page convey demonstrably false information about Paramount’s City government and services. These falsehoods regarding City programs, services, staff, events, etc., have either been forwarded by members of the public or encountered by municipal personnel. They are not simply expressions of opinion but are verifiably incorrect information. Likewise, the clarifications are not opinion, declarations of condemnation, or criticism. Each fact check is designed to promote full transparency and understanding, and is provided here for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact us.
FACT: While salaries and pension costs are certainly part of the City’s overall budget, they are not the sole reason for Measure Y as incorrectly asserted. The City Council placed Measure Y on the March 3 ballot to provide Paramount voters with a choice to create a stable, local funding stream to maintain essential services like public safety, infrastructure, and other municipal programs.
Far more money is spent on public safety in Paramount than on pensions. In fiscal year 2020, for instance, $12 million is being spent on public safety vs. $2.89 million on pensions. Consequently, a long-term, locally controlled revenue source like the one offered in Measure Y would naturally be used to avoid making cuts to Sheriff’s services to protect public safety rather than being used solely to pay for pensions.
Since 2007, City sales tax revenue has gone up by 5.5% while the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – the cost of living in the region – has increased by 30.66%. This is a very telling imbalance. Most contracts for services have gone up following the CPI; City revenues have fallen way behind that gauge.
The total cost to Paramount of one deputy from the Sheriff’s Department (more than just their salary) has jumped even more than the CPI – 80% over the last 15 years to nearly half a million dollars annually. The largest part of the City’s budget is devoted to public safety, with the major portion of that for the Sheriff’s contract.
And while pension costs have gone up over the years due to extended life expectancies, CalPERS’ investment losses, and CalPERS’ assumption changes, the City has made employee pension reforms and has voluntarily paid down the unfunded liability in addition to continually meeting annual required pension obligations. In fact, the City’s net pension liability dropped by $1,535,307 from fiscal year 2018 to 2019.
Paramount has done much to keep the costs it controls down across the board. Layoffs in 2012 reduced the workforce by 25%, and none of those jobs have been restored. The City continually pursues economic development and grants to close the gap in funding. It has formed partnerships with other agencies such as Long Beach Transit and the YMCA to reduce expenditures.Still, the City is entering a structural deficit, with yearly deficits projected at $3-4 million by 2025. These predictions are not the result of ever-soaring employee salaries or pensions. They are rooted in much larger economic realities. None of these realities are hidden. You can find the City’s budget and annual financial statements at paramountcity.com under the “Government” and “Finance Department” tabs.
FACT: City employees, management or other, cannot give themselves a pay raise. Any and all pay increase proposals are reviewed and voted on by the City Council.
At last year’s budget, the City Council approved a 3% pay increase for all full-time employees, except for the City Manager (whose compensation is determined through a separate process and is codified through a contract on an occasional basis). For those employees who were hired before 2013, 2% of that pay increase came back to the City to pay for the employees’ share of the pension costs. Thus, these employees received a net 1% increase in their pay last year, while the Consumer Price Index (the cost of living in the region) was at 2.5%. All employees hired after 2013, by State law, already contribute to their pension costs, and thus kept the full 3% increase.
Community members are encouraged to view the budget. Additional questions can be answered by contacting the City’s Finance Director, Ms. Karina Lam, at (562) 220-2207 or by email. Please click here to view the City Manager’s contract.
FACT: In order to attract quality employees that best serve residents and businesses in the City, Paramount’s wages and benefits need to keep pace with similar employers in this highly competitive labor market. Paramount’s compensation is, on average, slightly lower than what other cities in the region provide their employees. All employers in every industry must adjust their compensation according to the market or risk low morale and high turnover.