LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Thousands of retired firefighters, clerks, deputies and other public employees might get more money in their pension checks as 20 California counties try to factor a California Supreme Court ruling into their balance sheets.
The court last year overhauled the way retirement benefits are calculated for more than 100,000 county employees and retirees around the state. That ruling is expected to result in tens of millions of dollars in higher benefits as well as uncounted costs for administration and, probably, lawsuits, experts said.
The court ruled Ventura County pensions should be based not only on salaries but also on benefits such as car allowances and bonuses. The ruling applies to the 20 counties covered by the County Employees' Retirement Law of 1937.
Thirteen county retirement boards have voted to give windfalls to their workers, the others are still working.
On Feb. 6, Orange County became the first to agree not only to grant pension raises to current workers, but also to make three years of retroactive payments to retirees. The total cost was figured at $17 million a year.
The Los Angeles' retirement system voted last month to pay additional benefits to its current workers at an expected cost of $4 million a year. The county did not extend the benefits to retirees, and the union representing sheriff's deputies has threatened to sue.
Lawsuits challenging similar decisions have been filed in Sacramento, Contra Costa and Marin counties.