Orange County’s unfunded mandate will rise after their appeal to the State Supreme Court fell flat yesterday.

For the last three years, Orange County has been fighting a legal battle to overturn an expensive 3 at 50 pension plan for its deputies that was approved in 2001. The fight was costly, but the advocates for the suit said that the potential cost savings were worth the risk.

Now that the legal battle has ended, the county must retire its legal debt, which could be as a high as $3 million, and is also on the hook for the deputies’ legal bills as well. Between the two, the cost could approach $8 million.

The county’s unfunded liability will also grow by $100 million immediately, bringing the total gap to approximately $3.8 billion.

From the Orange County Register:

The County of Orange’s years-long fight to overturn the its generous “3 percent at 50″ pension plan for sheriff’s deputies came to an abrupt halt Wednesday when the California Supreme Court refuse to hear its appeal.

The contentious case had stretched into its third year of litigation. A win by the county could have saved as much as $500 million, according to Supervisor John Moorlach who pushed the lawsuit to a final legal answer.

Losing the fight means the county will now have to pay its own $2 million-plus legal bill and may be on the hook for the deputies’ legal bills as well.

Read the full article here.