Pension plan train wreck

One of the biggest examples of the financial risks in having an administrative branch of city government that isn’t directly answerable to the public is the city pension/retirement system. The staff – with the approval of a large ten-member council – has created a huge financial “black hole” that is eating up tax dollars every year. For years, the approved budget avoided the pension issues. It was a “can” that each city manager and council kicked forward to the next year.

Escambia County and ECUA don’t have pension problems. The City of Pensacola does. Since the city manager and staff are in charge, they are the ones that should be held accountable. Just look at these last three years and how much the retirement contributions are for each government agency. The County and ECUA have used the state retirement system. The City of Pensacola, up until recently, created their own pension system.

Escambia County
2006: 2,512 positions, $12.67 million
2007: 2,639 positions, $15.04 m
2008: 2,618 positions, $15.04 m

2006: 998 positions, $11.68 m
2007: 1,001 positions, $12.93 m
2008: 984 positions, $13.96 m

2006: 516 positions, $1.71 m
2007: 516 positions, $1.99 m
2008: 537 positions, $2.23 m

2008 Pension costs per employee
Pensacola: $14,187
County: $5,744
ECUA: $4,153

The 2008 Pension/Retirement costs of the City were 93% of the ad valorem tax revenues. Also if the City pension/retirement contributions were line with the County rate per employee, the City would have had $22 million to spend from 2006-2008 on other projects. Imagine what the City could do with $22 million!

Heck, the City could have cut the tax rate by 30 percent and still had $2.5 million a year to spend on projects.

I realize the Old Guard and Charlie like the current system, but I see it as being very costly. We’ve had $22 million taken out of our economy and put into pension funds.

All these figures are from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports of the City, County and ECUA. The County figures include all constitutional officer – Sheriff, Tax Collector, etc.