SLO city budget doubles in 8 years, surpasses $200 million

June 11, 2019


The city of San Luis Obispo’s budget has more than doubled from approximately $100 million to more than $200 million over the last eight years. [Cal Coast Times]

Last week, the San Luis Obispo City Council adopted a two-year budget that totals $200 million in 2019-2020 and $208 million in 2020-2021, according to a city news release. By contrast, a decade ago, the city adopted a $95.6 million budget for 2009-2010 and a $100.5 million budget for 2010-2011.

In 2011, the city council adopted a pair of budgets that were slightly below $100 million. Rising staffing costs have contributed significantly to the doubling of SLO’s budget since then.

City officials are touting the new budget as an end to SLO’s pension-liability induced shortfall. SLO officials are now projecting a balanced budget for the next five years, ending in 2023-2024, with a commitment to paying off its approximately $150 million in unfunded pension liabilities.

Following a decision by the board of the state retirement system, CalPERS, to lower its investment forecasts, SLO had been facing a projected $8.9 million budget gap over three years. The budget gap is now closed, and San Luis Obispo will increase its pension payments in order to eliminate its unfunded liabilities over a 20-year period, city officials claim.

SLO plans to invest $13.8 million in a pension trust, a special fund that will protect the city against pension rate fluctuations and will enable it to earn higher returns on investment funds in its plans, according to the city press release. Likewise, the city is creating a $1 million General Fund Revenue Stabilization reserve to help offset unanticipated market fluctuations.

The increasing efforts to pay down unfunded pension liabilities come at a time when the city’s retirement costs have been skyrocketing. SLO’s annual payments to CalPERS have increased to more than $10 million in recent years and could exceed $20 million in the coming decade.

Additionally, CalPERS is still phasing in changes to its investment forecasts, which causes unfunded liabilities to spike. In response to questions from Cal Coast Times in Oct. 2017, City Manager Derek Johnson said SLO had an unfunded liability of more than $165 million when factoring in the CalPERS rate adjustments.

As Cal Coast Times recently reported, the average full-career retiree from the city of SLO receives an annual pension of approximately $90,000.


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Don’t blame the politicians blame the unions. If the whiners don’t like the pay and say if you don’t pay me more I will quit fin there’s the freeway bye. Saying we have to pay competive wages to get the best bahlony look at how many times you got the cream of the crap and had to pay large serverance pay to get rid of them.

just the facts

Ahhh…here is the City of San Luis Obispo’s Green New Deal in all its glory. Ain’t socialism great!

Just keep on increasing the budget and keep on taxing. Happy Days are here again in a Most Happy City!

And if you believe the above, have a bridge to sell you in San Francisco!

It’s all about pensions, pensions, pensions. The bureaucracy is the master and the taxpayers are the servants. So far no mention of another local sales tax increase. Just wait…it’s a comin.’

And then there is the State of California’s Venezuela Gavin Newsom’s plan along with the socialist Democrat majority in the legislature, providing healthcare benefits to all illegals between the ages of 19 and 25. Mo worries, be happy. All is cool! Just fine those Californians who do not have health insurance.

What a City! What a State!

nazbol gang

We maxed out the tax rate a while ago. SLO would raise taxes if they could but there is a law against going higher. You know, because city council members deserve to retire on their own winery.


Oh but we’re a “Welcome City” harboring illegal immigrants and the counsel says income equality comes first so they layoff city workers to substitute by hiring service provider vendors who hire illegal immigrants because they never background check anybody. Getting contracts that are low low bid and then they give huge pay races, how does that add up?

Now if you call out the mayor how about the Welcome City issue she’s going to call you a xenophobe, a racist etc.

Then you have the state of California, who also haa the majority of democrat control for over 26 years has almost quadrupled the deficit in the last 14 years. So we’re in double trouble with the state and there are cities across the block in California that are liberal controlled are also in trouble of their deficits giving free housing and free incentives for illegal immigrants to live in their cities with free healthcare and sedatives. you wonder why we have such a homeless problem throughout the state and why cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Santa Barbara and yes San Luis Obispo can’t figure out a system that works but yet they tripled and doubled their ownbdeficits in the last 5 and 10 years.

But to think that our Cal Poly students have voted liberal and given us this counsel. Remember Cal Poly students are not permanent residence, so they’re going for the free stuff initiatives and our mayor is going for the young vote because she knows how to pander to students like sheep to get them to vote for her and if you’re a student of Cal Poly & Cuesta College do you feel better you voted for the mayor and his council? The answer is they don’t care because they’re not going to live here very long and the result is we got city council making choices that are affecting our long-term residence forever.



It’s so ridiculous all I can do is laugh at it all because there’s nothing else I can do about it.

I tried voting them out but that didn’t work.


Voting is what has brought us to the current situation.

Voting is nothing more than a barometer the political class uses to see if the people are still under the anesthesia and consenting or if they have indeed woke up. And I don’t mean “woke.” I mean actually aware of and correctly viewing our current situation.

If voting could in any way threaten the political class it would be made illegal!

Voters do not choose candidates! Candidates choose voters. No matter wins the election, the government—along with the personal fortunes of politicians—is safe, growing and protected from all harm.

The solution to our problems does not lie with giving the government more money, more votes and so forth. Quite the opposite.

If turnout in the elections were say….2% and everyone else stayed home in protest, that would be a very good start. Then they’d know we do not consent.


The main problem is candidates buy votes, look at all the Democratic Presidential candidates saying they will forgive student loans. They are saying “if you vote for me, I will give you thousands of dollars”. And it’s totally legal. Sad.

nazbol gang

After Trump completely betrayed his base and Harmon won mayor because there wasn’t any meaningful alternative, and Californian policy not changing no matter who is in power, I am refusing to vote in any USA government election. This is after decades of faithfully voting since I’ve legally been allowed, not missing a single election. I am not making this decision lightly.


Representative government doesnt work.


Hi Smiley,

While I certainly share your frustratrion—oh my yes I do—-just to be clear, representative government DOES work. Politicians represent those who pay their bills, give them bribes, provide a pathway for more and greater power and especially those who fix their messes.

What you’re lamenting isn’t representative government, but the scourge of massive, powerful government.



If Heidi Harmon says something, believe the opposite.

Claim: we solved the pension crisis.

Reality: They kicked the can down the road, no pension reform, higher taxes coming soon.

DO NOT trust progressive politicians/DO NOT vote Democrat in 2020.


You people just don’t get it! It’s not real money, it’s TAX money. They can always get more.


Cool! The “pension problem” is now fixed. They won’t be asking for tax increases! Right?

Also, with better leadership the budget could be even bigger. We all want a healthy, growing local government, right?


Notice the city says they have a fix for the pension problem, but it doesn’t include stopping the pension spiking, double dipping or cutting the outrageous salaries, just more fancy accounting so that the problem can become someone else’s down the road after the current group gets theirs and is long gone.