Escambia County

Others see Pension Crisis

March 23, 2009

John Charles Thomas, director of Policy and Political Affairs for the Florida League of Cities, wrote a viewpoint for the Tampa Tribune, “Pension Crisis is Looming for Cities.”

The trouble stems from a series of laws and other measures that have significantly increased pension benefits for police officers and firefighters and transferred more and more future costs onto city property taxpayers. These unsustainable pension policies for police officers and firefighters threaten to put Florida’s cities on a road to ruin, setting the stage for financial emergencies and 1970s-style fiscal crises.

Read more.

  • FB March 24, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    The DROP is a great program for workers, ahem, honest workers and employers alike. Close the Frackin’ loophole that allows for double dipping scumbags to STEAL money. It is a disgrace and everyone of those pirates should be forced to give the money back, like the AIG bonuses!

  • cop March 24, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    AMEN FedUp!!!

  • Anony March 24, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Bill – part of the stimulus funds that Florida anticipates receiving are for senior services, so the state is seeking to take advantage of an opportunity to abandon their responsibility to contribute to these needed services, knowing full well they will not take up that torch again once those stimulus funds are gone, and when they finally are shamed into doing so they will drag out that legislative process. It’s not that Florida can’t afford to provide services for the senior community, it’s that the old folks aren’t their concern, tax breaks for big businesses that make large campaign contributions are their concern and they are willing to throw the poor and dependent elderly under the bus in order to cater to that demographic. The middle class is starting to catch on that this process moves them down the food chain. It’s sort of prophetic that so many who were willing to join in the deamonization of the poor as the source of society’s ills now find themselves tasting a suttle flavor of “need”.

  • cop March 23, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Bill, I feel you may misunderstand the DROP. The DROP actually saves the cities and states some money, not much but it certainly does not cost them money.

    When an employee enters the DROP the government is no longer paying into their pension, whereas if they had retired the government would have to pay into the pension of a new employee. They would only save money if they were not intending on filling that position.

    For special risk employees (police and fire) the government contribution rate for this year is 20.92 percent of payroll, so they are saving that cost plus the cost of training a new employee.

    Where they need to look are at those employees like Al Coby who have already completed their DROP contracts and have signed a new contract that has put them in the FRS. So he is making $190,000+, has completed his DROP for about $400K, is now drawing his reitrement, and now the City is contributing to his FRS account. Now that should be looked at hard. I think they call that triple dipping.

  • FedUp March 23, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    The 54 member board of the League of Cities is made up entirely of Council members and Mayors of various municiplaities in Florida. Perhaps their by-laws should mandate that a few strong dedicated police and fire chiefs be on their board as well. This might make Mr. Thomas think twice before spewing his one sided negative portrayal of public safety pensions.

    Some cities do have serious problems with their pension systems but the politicians are to blame. To “fix” it now at the expense of all public safety personnel would be simply wrong.

    Also, some cities will use this article to convince their community that cutting public safety in this area is OK even if they don’t have a runaway pension. The League painting all public safety pensions with this broad brush is ludicrous.

    If I have a 401k I know it can be up down and sideways. If I take a low paying public safety job, the security of a promised pension goes with the territory, and is more expensive because cops and firefighters can’t be expected to work until 65. 50-52 years old is a norm for the industry and probably should not be changed. Change other things for new folks coming on board (401’s etc…) if needed but leave the promised packages alone and pay for them.

  • its only money March 23, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    is there no way to make state government more efficient by streamlining processes and reducing headcount in Tally???? Surely the Tan Man would not go there

  • Bill March 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I continue to be amazed at our ellected officials in Tallahassee, specifically, Ford, Murzin, Peadin, and Gatez, among others. In the “other” paper today an article addressed cuts that would have to be made in the state budget. Among the suggestions,”add 20,000 to the wait list for early learning. pink slips for 750 troopers, 60,000 poor and ederly adults denied dentures and hearing aids, 5000 frail and elderly without in-house meals, and daily living services”, and the list goes one.

    Not one word, not one, about stopping the DROP program for state employees, that would save millions each year. But they are willing to hurt people who should not be hurt. Every one of them should be voted out of office. You can not get anyone of them to even talk about adjustments to the most abusive system, for the taxpayer, I have ever heard of.

  • Anony March 23, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Who/what is the Florida League of Cities?
    From their website, under ‘Finance’
    The Florida League of Cities sponsors and administers the Florida Municipal Pension Trust Fund (FMPTF). The FMPTF was established in 1983 for the purpose of collectively managing employee retirement plans of participating Florida governments. The Fund operates as a non-profit, tax-exempt entity that provides professional and cost-effective investment and administrative services for all types of retirement plans.

    The FMPTF offers both full administration and investment managerment services for the following types of retirement and pension plans:
    snip

    What’s their story?
    http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com/LeagueInfo.aspx
    So, municipal funds pay them, correct?

    I need to amend my request for percentages of firefighters and law enforcement employees, and politicians, and others, to just those who work for municipalities, as that is supposedly the limit of their interest.

  • Anony March 23, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    cop says:
    What they are not telling you is that these cities have negotiated these pension increases with these public servants in lieu of the pay raises they deserve so that they could put the cost of into the future and let someone else worry about them…THE FUTURE IS HERE!!
    snip

    Exactly! They will do and say most anything to avoid uttering the “T” word because so many people have been convinced that cities, states, and the nation can operate on – what, gifts from the tooth fairy? Santa? Often, they just use another word. “Fee” is a current favorite.
    And, btw, why are cops and firefighters singled out as the problem? What percentage of the state, county and local government employees are firefighters and cops? What percentage are politicians? What percentage are the remainder of government employees? Let’s get a breakdown of those numbers. THEN we can see where we can make cuts in order to provide proper compensation for those who do the hardest and most dangerous work.
    We need to recruit from the pool of dedicated, civic minded folk to work on the hill in Tallahassee.

  • cop March 23, 2009 at 11:44 am

    What they are not telling you is that these cities have negotiated these pension increases with these public servants in lieu of the pay raises they deserve so that they could put the cost of into the future and let someone else worry about them…THE FUTURE IS HERE!!

    Case in point-the City of Pensacola negotiated with the police officers to decrease the officers contributions to their pension from 8.5% to .5% instead of an 8% pay raise so they would not have to tell the other employees they gave the cops a pay raise. So who’s fault is that?

    Now the City wants to claim pensions are breaking them and blame the employees. That is wrong. Back in the late 90’s the City reopened a closed plan to allow certain people to buy into a pension for a fraction of what they would recieve in benefits, then promptly closed it again after that. That has cost them nearly $20 million to date. Ask the finance director how come he told the council this was a minimal cost ($2 million). Looks like he forgot a zero.