The county’s population has tripled since 1950 and enjoys a Triple-A bond rating.
Part of the reason, the story notes, is that the county executive L. Brooks Patterson reformed the county worker pensions.
Patterson oversees 4,000 employees and a budget of $776 million for fiscal 2013. In the 1990s he switched county workers from defined benefit pensions to 401(k)-type plans, and new hires no longer get lifetime retiree health care—instead they receive health savings accounts. Changes like these have saved hundreds of millions of dollars and eliminated the legacy labor costs that plague not only Detroit but city and state governments all over the country. Oakland is part of a select group of U.S. counties that enjoy a Triple-A bond rating.