Carlsbad’s City Council received a forecast that it was probably looking to avoid, but in light of rising costs, a consultant recently told council members to seriously consider shifting a greater burden of the pension costs to employees. The advice from consultant John Bartel was made all the more difficult by the fact that it’s an election year and city employee benefits are a touchy subject that voters will likely have passionate opinions about as city officials struggle to balance their budgets. While Carlsbad has fared better than many cities during the economic downturn, the North County Times reports that “City officials forecast that Carlsbad's pension costs could climb over the next decade. In the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, the city expects to add $14.94 million to its pension system. In eight years, that figure is forecast to be $23.49 million.”Bartel argues that Carlsbad’s best option is just to renegotiate the amount that current employees are expected to pony up for the pension system because cutting the benefits of future employees will not save much money. Council members Keith Blackburn and Matt Hall are both running for the position of mayor and they each have opposing views on how to approach the city’s pensions, so perhaps it's the election results that will tell whether the consultant’s advice will be heeded or if the status quo will be maintained for as long as it is fiscally possible.