By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog
PORTLAND – The city of Portland ranks low among large U.S. cities when it comes to paying for employee pensions, according to a study by the Pew Center on the States.
The city often prides itself on being distinct but this time Portland has the honor of being one of the worst major cities when it comes to paying down that debt. A study, released earlier this week by the Pew Center, lists Portland as one of nine “bottom performers” on pensions, meaning the city reported funding levels of less than 80 percent and paying less than 90 percent of their annual recommended contributions in 2007-2009.
The study found Portland’s unfunded liability rose from $1.6 million in 2007 to $2.7 million in 2009 and the percent of total liabilities funded dropped from 66 percent to 50 percent.
The study examined pension and retiree health care funding in 61 cities—the most populous one in each state plus all others with populations over 500,000.
While much attention has been paid to state pension woes – Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has called for reform to deal with the state’s $16 billion unfunded liability – major cities have also found themselves in a tight squeeze, unable to pay for the promised pensions, the study found.
The study also found that Portland, along with Charleston, Omaha and Providence, is more poorly funded than Illinois, which at 51 percent was the lowest-funded state.