Judge Christopher M. Klein's decision to accept the City of Stockton's petition for bankruptcy on April 1, 2013 set the stage for a battle over whether public workers' pensions can be reduced through municipal reorganization.
Stockton's public revenues tumbled dramatically when the recession hit, leaving Stockton unable to meet its day-to-day obligations. Stockton slashed its police and fire departments, eliminated many city services, cut public employee benefits and suspended payments on municipal bonds it had used to finance various projects and close projected budget gaps. Stockton continues to pay its obligations to California Public Employees' Retirement System ("CalPERS") for its public workers' pensions. Pension obligations are particularly high because during the years prior to the recession, city workers could "spike" their pensions—by augmenting their final year of compensation with unlimited accrued vacation and sick leave—in order to receive pension payments that grossly exceeded their annual salaries.Continue Reading Questions & comments
Round one of the fight between the City of Stockton, California and its creditors is finally over. On April 1, 2013, Bankruptcy Judge Christopher M. Klein held that Stockton satisfied the eligibility requirements for a Chapter 9 debtor.
Back on June 28, 2012, Stockton filed a petition seeking to adjust its debts under Chapter 9 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.Continue Reading Questions & comments
On June 28, 2012, Stockton, California became the most recent municipality to file for bankruptcy under chapter 9, after having concluded a mandatory mediation process with its creditors. See, In re City of Stockton, California, Case No. 12-32118 (Bankr. E.D. Cal.). Many parties affected by a potential filing by other similarly situated California public entities are seeking to understand the process that precedes a Chapter 9 filing and how to plan for a possible filing. This summary provides an overview of the protocol before a California entity may file for Chapter 9 protection.