Wed08052015

News

Residents help police nab burglary suspects

Residents help police nab burglary suspects


Courtesy of Los Altos Police Department
Police used security-camera footage to identify two burglary suspects.

With assistance from the public, Los Altos Police identified two suspects in a residential burglary earlier this year. Police arrested...

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Schools

BCS parents host summer bridge camp for students in need

BCS parents host summer bridge camp for students in need


Zoe Morgan/Town Crier Editorial Intern
Bullis Boosters Summer Bridge Camp counselor Sonia Uppal teaches students the basics of computer coding last week.

The Bullis Boosters Summer Bridge Camp aims to reduce the achievement gap by offering a hands-...

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Community

Los Altos resident continues work toward eradicating No. 1 cause of infant deaths

Los Altos resident continues work toward eradicating No. 1 cause of infant deaths


Courtesy of Marge Shively
Kathy Radford, from left, Ann Roper, Sandy Harapat, Betty Gillmore, Jane Halligan and Laura Griswald stuff envelopes to raise money for spinal muscular atrophy research.

Proceeds from the 13th annual NorCal Walk-n-Roll,...

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Sports

Lovin' Levi's

Lovin' Levi's


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View’s Austin Johnson, running after the catch, played multiple positions in Saturday’s game.

For Mountain View High’s Austin Johnson and Homestead’s John Rak, the highlight of playing in Saturday’s 41st annu...

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Comment

My solar clothes dryer: A Piece of My Mind

My cousin periodically sends me Internet nostalgia with comments along the lines of “Are you old enough to remember this?” One of her recent items struck me as newly useful in our energy-conservation-conscious times:

The Basic Rules for ...

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Special Sections

Killer crossover

Killer crossover


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC crossover is scheduled to debut this fall in the United States.

After a press drive through the Alsace wine region between France and Germany in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC, we have ...

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Business

Cetrella ventures from seaside to Silicon Valley

Cetrella ventures from seaside to Silicon Valley


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Managing partner M’hamed Bahet oversees the new downtown Los Altos restaurant Cetrella, which features coastal cuisine and decor that celebrates the Peninsula region.

“Rustic,” “worldly” and ...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

LILLIAN FLORENCE SLAVIN

LILLIAN FLORENCE SLAVIN

April 9, 1921 – July 17, 2015

Lillian Florence Slavin, long-time resident of Los Altos and The Forum at Rancho San Antonio, died peacefully on July 17, 2015.  She was 94 years old.

Lillian was born on April 9, 1921 to William Broadley and Fl...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Funny 'Forum'

Funny 'Forum'


David Allen/Special to the Town Crier
Foothill Music Theatre’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” features, from left, Tomas Theriot, Todd Wright, Mike Meadors and Ray D’Ambrosio.

Some plays are meant to be quite serious, while oth...

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Spiritual Life

Life is fleeting – and you can't take stuff with you

Anyone who knows me knows that I love going to garage and estate sales. I love a bargain. I have enough stuff to live on, so now I seek out things that are interesting to me. I like looking for interesting artwork, though now my wife has tasked me ...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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Pension study says city OK for now, but trouble may lie ahead: Rate obligation could increase substantially in next couple of years

A recently completed study on the state of the city’s California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) obligations revealed that Los Altos’ contributions may rise significantly by the end of the decade.

The study, presented at the Oct. 8 Los Altos City Council meeting, took the city’s Financial Commission more than 100 hours to complete.

The study concluded that while the city may not see near-term financial challenges – noting previous city efforts to help lower its obligations – Los Altos’ public employee pension contribution rates may increase by as much as 30-40 percent over a five-year period starting in fiscal year 2015-2016. CalPERS has been managing the city’s pension plans – totaling more than 270 plans for active and retired employees – since 1960.

Reached by the Town Crier, Los Altos Finance Director Russ Morreale said the city’s position would be far worse, if not for steps in recent years to mitigate some obligations.

According to Morreale, a CalPERS side-fund paydown saved the city between $4 million and $5 million in liability over the past five years. The city also adopted a second tier of retirement plans to reduce benefit costs and established a $600,000 reserve fund this year to weather future sticker shock, he said. Morreale called the potential 30-40 percent rate increase outlined in the report a “pretty conservative estimate.”

“The city has taken the right actions, but there are some significant challenges ahead of us,” said Morreale, who echoed a similar tone during the city’s budget review process in June. “We are expecting significant rate increases.”

Per the commission report, Morreale noted that city pensions are now 77 percent funded, slightly higher than the CalPERS pension system as a whole at 74 percent, as of June 2011 data. The city has a net unfunded market liability of $21 million.

“That is a long-term liability – it doesn’t have to be paid tomorrow – but what it does indicate is that funding levels are lower than preferred,” he said. “I don’t think anyone is content with 77 percent.”

The report pointed to several factors, including fluctuating annual returns on CalPERS investments – 3.8 percent over the past five years but as high as 9.5 percent over a 30-year term – for the murky outlook. Conversely, CalPERS operates pension investments under an assumed return rate – also known as an assumed discount rate – of 7.5 percent. A 2011-2012 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury called the actuarial rate “unrealistically high,” the report noted.

Other factors outlined include legislation and the 2008 financial crisis, as well as longer life expectancy of retirees than originally assumed. The report noted that the upcoming outcome of a current review by CalPERS of its investment policies and actuarial methods will likely lead to future rate increases.

“Changes are coming. CalPERS is reformulating, if you will,” Morreale said. “Most likely, we’ll be in a higher rate environment, so stay cautious – that’s the message here.”

The report concluded that terminating CalPERS plans via a buyout isn’t recommended. A buyout, the report outlined, carries a cost of $62 million – which Morreale termed “unaffordable, given the money involved.” In that scenario, CalPERS would apply a “risk-free” investment return based on U.S. Department of Treasury rates, according to the study.

To read the pension study, visit the city of Los Altos website at losaltosca.gov.

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