Letters to the editor

 

Letters to the editor

 

Date: March 3, 2011
by:

 
 

+ City officials favor St. Armands
Dear Editor:
The powers that be make downtown operate  at an extreme economic disadvantage to St. Armands Circle.

Parking on St. Armands is free for three hours, downtown two hours. St. Armands has two free parking lots operated by the city — one behind the Crab & Fin and the other behind Cafe L’Europe and Columbia.
Downtown has a new parking garage that was built more to cater to the new retail stores in the garage than to the old businesses on Main and Palm.

They are making a big deal about the garage being free right now. It is only free because it isn’t finished and they have not put in the toll booths yet. As soon as they can, parking meters will be installed within a quarter-mile of each garage. It is almost as if the city has a grudge against the downtown merchants. For sure, they are favoring St. Armands.
Kenny Barr
Sarasota

+ Police deserve what they’ve earned
Dear Editor:
I have been a Sarasota Police Officer for 30 years and at this time next year will be retiring. So why after a long, proud career with many accomplishments do I feel like I did something wrong?

In November 1981, before our mayor was born and two commissioners knew Sarasota existed, I made Sarasota my home and law enforcement my career. As a benefit for dedicating my life to protecting its citizens and putting myself in harm’s way to establish a better way of life, I would be provided a pension and health care. Now, don’t get me wrong, my pension is still guaranteed and my health care, although no longer free of charge, is still intact. But in recent years and even more so in current times, our city leaders have lashed out, condemned and made plans to abolish the security my fellow officers not yet ready to retire would also earn. Yes, I said earn!

We’ve been made the scapegoat for poor financial stability when, in fact, none of this is our fault. Our governor says it on a state level and will most likely cause thousands of police officers and sheriff deputies to also lose their retirement security. It’s always been the benefit of working for your government, a pension after a lifetime of service. Why would people do the job we do if it weren’t understood that your pension is your thanks from a grateful people?

In Sarasota, many young qualified officers, who some day would rise to the top and lead our department, are already making plans to move on if this pension change goes through. Several have already departed. According to our elected leaders, Sarasota will be the first to adopt this new philosophy. What we will become is a destination of police officer recruits who would be willing to forego any pension benefit just to work as a cop, because they can’t get hired anywhere else!

Our level of expertise, dedication and ability will drop, and Sarasota, which was known to have an elite professional department, will be a training ground for other cities or a dumping ground for their rejects. A government’s primary reason for existence is to provide for the health and safety of its citizens. In Sarasota, our leaders disagree, and, as they cut away at your safety and security, they tell you it’s good and will provide for a more stable future for you and your children. Yet, I’m the one who feels guilty.
Bob Gorevan
Sarasota


 

 

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  • 1.
  • AFTER READING THE EDITORIAL COMMENTS OF FORMER MAYOR KIRSCHNER & AN ARTICLE IN THE “OBSERVER” REGARDING CITY OF SARASOTA PENSIONS, THE TOTAL LACK OF FACTS AND EXAGGERATIONS BY THE THESE PARTIES NEED SOME CLARIFICATION. UNFORTUNATELY, THERE IS NOT SUFFICIENT ROOM IN THE MEDIA TO FULLY EXPLAIN ALL THE DETAILS, BUT LET ME GIVE IT SOME JUSTICE.

    GOVERNMENT PENSIONS & BENEFITS HAVE BECOME THE “FLAVOR OF THE MONTH”…WITH MUCH HYPE & PROPAGANDA BY SARASOTA OFFICIALS…SUCH DATA MISINFORMS THE PUBLIC AND CURRENT & FUTURE COMMISSION CANDIDATES

    REGARDING FORMER MAYOR KIRSCHNERS COMMENTS…VERY FEW OFFICERS HIRE ON THE POLICE DEPARTMENT AT 20 YEARS OF AGE & RETIRE AT 45…MOST OFFICERS ARE MORE LIKE 24-27 YEARS OF AGE, WHEN HIRED…AND OTHER THAN THE CHIEF OF POLICE, AND A FEW OTHER HIGH RANKING STAFF THRU OUT THE CITY, FEW, IF ANY, RANK & FILE OFFICERS & GENERAL EMPLOYEES MAKE SALARIES ANYWHERE NEAR $ 100,000.00 A YEAR AFTER 25 YEARS OF SERVICE.

    AND I CANNOT THINK OF ANY RETIRED OFFICER, AFTER FIVE {5} YEARS INTO THEIR RETIREMENT, THAT ARE MAKING ANYWHERE CLOSE TO THEIR LAST YEARS SALARY, MUCH LESS MAKING TWICE THAT SALARY BY AGE 65.

    THE METHOD OF CALCULATION IS CORRECT, BUT WITH THE WRONG NUMBERS.

    WHY INSERT AN “AVERAGE SALARY OF $ 100,000.00” FOR POLICE OFFICERS & GENERAL EMPLOYEES…I’M SURE THOSE EMPLOYEES WOULD READILY ACCEPT THAT FIGURE, IF ONLY IT WAS TRUE. THE FORMER MAYOR’S EXAGGERATIONS ARE WHAT CAUSES MISTRUST, INSTEAD OF DISCUSSIONS TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES.

    BUT OTHER ISSUES NEED TO BE CLARIFIED, AS WELL.

    IF THE CITY OF SARASOTA IS OFFERING PENSIONS AND HEALTH CARE, WITHOUT MAKING PROPER PLANS TO FUND THEM, THEY SHOULD HAVE TO EXPLAIN WHY THEY DID NOT FUND SUCH PLANS PROPERLY. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT THE EMPLOYEES OR RETIREE’S FAULT…SOME GOVERNMENTS SIMPLY SPEND THE TAX REVENUES, AND IGNORE THE FUTURE COSTS FOR PENSIONS & HEALTH CARE…BY “KICKING THE ISSUE DOWN THE ROAD”…THOSE ARE THE ENTITIES THAT ARE IN TROUBLE…BUT THE CITY OF SARASOTA IS NOT ONE OF THOSE ENTITIES, FOR SEVERAL REASONS.

    THE CITY OF SARASOTA IS SIMPLY TRYING TO AVOID PAYING THEIR REQUIRED CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EMPLOYEES & RETIREES.

    THE CITY OF SARASOTA PENSION BOARDS & PENSION FUNDS, ARE STILL IN VERY GOOD CONDITION, EVEN WITH THE DOWN MARKETS OF THE LAST FEW YEARS. THE INVESTMENT MARKETS ARE RECOVERING…THE DOW IS ABOVE 12,200 TODAY.

    THE POLICE PENSION PLAN IS FUNDED AT 83%....IT WAS AT OR NEAR 100% JUST A FEW YEARS AGO…ANYTHING ABOVE 80% IS CONSIDERED AS A HEALTHY PENSION PLAN.

    ADDITIONALLY, THE POLICE PENSION PLAN HAS GONE FROM A HIGH OF 192 ACTIVE MEMBERS IN 1992…AND NOW STANDS AT …144 ACTIVE MEMBERS CONTRIBUTING TO THE POLICE PLAN. {AS OF 09-2010}

    THE ISSUES WE FACE ARE A CITY COMMISSION & STAFF THAT WANTS TO SIMPLY AVOID MAKING THEIR PROMISED CONTRIBUTIONS TO THESE PLANS…INSTEAD OF DISCUSSING & NEGOTIATING SOME CHANGES THAT WOULD HELP FINE TUNE THE PENSION PLANS.

    THE POLICE EMPLOYEES CONTRIBUTE TO THESE PENSION FUNDS, CURRENTLY AT 8% OF THEIR SALARY. GENERAL EMPLOYEES CONTRIBUTE 6% TOWARD THEIR PENSIONS.

    THE POLICE PENSION FUND EXCEEDS $ 131,000.000 AND IS NOW GROWING…

    THE CITY DOES HAVE A LEGAL OBLIGATION TO KEEP THE PENSION PLANS FINANCIALLY SOUND. THE PLANS ARE FUNDED BY CITY AND EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS, HOWEVER, THE MAJORITY OF THE PENSION FUNDING IS FROM INVESTMENT EARNINGS.

    THAT’S HOW A PENSION FUND IS SUPPOSED TO WORK.

    THE CITY CONTINUES TO USE SMOKE & MIRRORS TO FRIGHTEN CITIZENS INTO THINKING THE CITY IS IN A FINANCIAL DILEMMA BECAUSE OF PENSIONS, THAT IS NOT THE CASE. THE FINANCIAL CRISIS {RECESSION} CAUSED THIS PROBLEM.

    THE CITY OF SARASOTA HAS PAINTED A GRIM PICTURE, USING STATISTICS THAT ARE SOMEWHAT MISLEADING.

    THE CITY’S FIRST OBLIGATIONS SHOULD BE THE WELFARE OF THE CITIZENS, BUT THAT ALSO INCLUDES HONORING THE COMMITMENTS TO THE EMPLOYEES & RETIREES THAT HAVE MADE SARASOTA THE SUCCESS THAT IT HAS BECOME OVER MANY YEARS.

    THAT IS ALSO A DOUBLE EDGED SWORD…IT REQUIRES THE CITY TO BE RESPONSIBLE IN THEIR SPENDING. SOMEHOW, OVER THE PAST YEARS, WHEN REAL ESTATE VALUES WERE CLIMBING & FUNDS POURING INTO CITY COFFERS…THE CITY BECAME LESS THAN FRUGAL…STARTING MANY PET PROJECTS…ROUNDABOUTS THAT WILL COST MILLIONS, AND MANY OTHER SUCH PET PROJECTS.

    BUT, WHEN TIMES BECAME TIGHT IN 2007, THE CITY DID NOT REDUCE EXPENSES, OH, THEY DID LAY OFF EMPLOYEES…BUT THEY CONTINUED WITH THEIR PET PROJECTS…BUT, UNTIL THE ECONOMY TURNS AROUND, THE CITY SHOULD PROVIDE BASIC SERVICES…NOT ROUNDABOUTS…PARKING GARAGES…PARKING METERS, ETC

    ELIMINATION OR POSTPONEMENT OF SUCH PROJECTS UNTIL THE ECONOMY RECOVERS WOULD HAVE BEEN THE RIGHT RESPONSE.

    I WILL TRY TO SIMPLIFY THE ISSUES WE ARE FACING, BUT TO UNDERSTAND THE PENSION ISSUES, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE HISTORY BEHIND THESE ISSUES.


    BEGINNING WITH THE FIRE DEPARTMENT IN 1939…THEN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT IN 1947, AND GENERAL EMPLOYEES IN 1959…THE CITY, NOT THE UNIONS, THE CITY CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF PROVIDING PRIVATE PENSIONS , THAT THE EMPLOYEES ARE TO CONTRIBUTE TO, AND ALSO “PROMISING” NO COST HEALTH CARE FOR ALL EMPLOYEES, …THAT PLAN DOES NOT INCLUDE THEIR FAMILIES & DEPENDANTS.

    THE CITY CAME UP WITH THE PRIVATE PENSION IN THAT ERA, HOWEVER, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NOTIFIED THE CITY THAT THEIR EMPLOYEES COULD NOT BE IN THE PRIVATE PENSION PLAN AND SOCIAL SECURITY AT THE SAME TIME. THAT WAS CHANGED SOME YEARS LATER, HOWEVER THE CITY DID NOT ADVISE EMPLOYEES THAT THEY COULD PAY INTO BOTH PLANS, THUS SAVING THE CITY 6.2% IN SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS OVER THE NEXT DECADES. {MILLIONS SAVED}

    REGARDING THAT DATE…LET’S USE 1960…AS THE STARTING POINT.

    THE CITY KNEW THE POOL OF RETIREES DRAWING ON THOSE “1960’S PROMISES” WOULD NOT REALLY START TO SURFACE FOR 25-30 YEARS…RETIREMENT BENEFITS THAT WOULD BE “KICKED DOWN THE ROAD” BY THE CITY FOR 25-30 YEARS.

    BASICALLY, IMAGINE YOU HIRE AN EMPLOYEE AND PROMISE THEM IF THEY WORK FOR YOU, WITH MEAGER RAISES…BUT WITH PROMISES THAT THE EMPLOYEE WILL GET THOSE BENEFITS IN 25-30 YEARS.

    THEN, IN 25-30 YEARS, WHEN THOSE PROMISES COMES DUE…THE CITY GETS AMNESIA.

    THE CITY WAS HOWEVER, ABLE TO RECRUIT NEW EMPLOYEES WITH THOSE “PROMISES”…AND ALSO USING THOSE PROMISES TO JUSTIFY THE LOW WAGES AND VERY MEAGER ANNUAL RAISES…BUT WITH THE CITY ALWAYS REMINDING THE EMPLOYEES OF THE GOOD PENSION & “NO COST CITY HEALTH CARE INSURANCE”

    THE CITY USED THOSE “PROMISES” IN NEGOTIATIONS…AND THOSE PROMISED BENEFITS, WHEN THE EMPLOYEES RETIRE.

    THE CITY WAS ABLE TO KEEP TAXES AT A LOWER RATE…AND SPEND MONEY ON THEIR PROJECTS…AND, OHH!!!!, BY THE WAY…ALSO KEEP SOME REALLY GREAT EMPLOYEES SATISFIED WITH THAT FUTURE PROMISE.

    NOW, FROM 1960 THRU APPROX 1985-1990…THE RETIREE COSTS TO THE CITY WERE RELATIVELY LOW…SOME EMPLOYEES MAY RETIRE EARLY…SOME ON MEDICAL RETIREMENT, BUT THE MAJORITY STILL WORKING DURING THAT TIME PERIOD.

    BUT BY ABOUT -1985 TO 1990…THE CITY NOW STARTS TO SEE THE INCREASE OF “RETIREMENTS” AS EMPLOYEES REACH 25…30 & EVEN 35 YEARS OF SERVICE…AND THOSE “PROMISES”.

    NOW IT IS TIME TO “PAY-UP” REGARDING THOSE “PROMISES”…WHICH THE CITY HAD…“KICKED DOWN THE ROAD”.

    SO WHAT DOES THE CITY DO…WHEN THOSE “PROMISES” START TO COST SOME FUNDS…WELL…IN 1993…THE CITY DECIDES TO CHANGE THE PLAN …AND NEGOTIATED WITH CITY EMPLOYEES…THEY MODIFIED THE “PROMISE”, TO PAY ALL PRE-93 EMPLOYEES AND RETIREES THE PROMISED “HEALTH CARE”…BUT ALL EMPLOYEES HIRED AFTER 1993 WOULD HAVE TO PAY THEIR OWN INSURANCE FEES…”KICKING THE ISSUE DOWN THE ROAD AGAIN”.

    THE CITY EMPLOYEES, THOUGH DISAPPOINTED, AGREED TO THE CITY’S REQUESTS.

    2010 ARRIVES…17 YEARS HAVE GONE BY…THE PEAK OF RETIREMENTS HAVE ARRIVED AND WILL NOW STEADILY GO DOWN, AS RETIRES, FOR LACK OF A NICER WORD…”DIE”…AND ARE REMOVED FROM THE RETIREMENT ROLLS.

    THE CITY DECIDES THEY CAN’T WAIT UNTIL 2025 OR SO, WHEN MOST CURRENT RETIREES WILL BE “OFF THE PENSION ROLLS”…AS WELL AS HEALTH CARE BASICALLY DISAPPEARING AS A COST TO THE CITY BY THEN.

    ON 09-20-2010…THE CITY PASSED IT’S RETIREE HEALTH CARE FEES FOR “SINGLE COVERAGE” RETIREES AND CURRENTLY, STILL WORKING PRE-93 EMPLOYEES.

    USING THE CITY’S NUMBERS…A COST OF $ 29,600 TO EACH EFFECTED EMPLOYEE & RETIREE OVER THE 1ST 12 YEARS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF SUCH FEES, ASSUMING THE CITY DOES NOT INCREASE SUCH FEES.

    NOW, 2011 ARRIVES…NOW THE CITY OF SARASOTA IS NEGOTIATING TO REPLACE “DEFINED BENEFITS” WITH “DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS”…FOR THAT, THE PUBLIC NEEDS SOME CLARIFICATION, AS THERE IS A LOT OF FALSE INFORMATION OUT THERE.

    DEFINED BENEFITS IS THE SYSTEM THAT IS IN PLACE NOW…EMPLOYEES & THE CITY EACH CONTRIBUTE …8% REQUIRED FROM EACH EMPLOYEE…ALONG WITH THE CITY’S CONTRIBUTIONS.

    UNDER “DEFINED BENEFITS”, THE PLANNED RETIREMENTS ARE ACTUARIALLY PLANED…WITH AVERAGING OF INVESTMENTS PLANNED OUT OVER 30 YEARS…IN ORDER TO AVOID HIGHS & LOWS IN THE INVESTMENT STRATEGIES. THAT WAY AN EMPLOYEE KNOWS APPROXIMATELY WHAT THEIR RETIREMENT WILL BE AND CAN PLAN ACCORDINGLY.

    DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS…THIS IS BASICALLY A 401 K PLAN…WHICH THE EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTES TO…THE CITY CLAIMS THEY WILL MATCH THE EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS.

    THAT 401 K PLAN, AS PRESENTLY BEING NEGOTIATED…POLICE OFFICERS WOULD REQUIRE A CONTRIBUTION OF 8% AND COULD CONTRIBUTE AN ADDITIONAL 8 % PER OFFICER…THE CITY WOULD MATCH THE CONTRIBUTION , UP TO 16%, AS WELL.

    A GENERAL EMPLOYEE WOULD CONTRIBUTE APPROX 6 % AND MATCHED BY THE CITY, UP TO 08 %, AS WELL.

    THAT ISSUE WILL BE EXPENSIVE, AND WILL COST MORE TO FUND INITIALLY. WHETHER ANY SAVINGS DOWN THE ROAD WILL JUSTIFY THIS IS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS A GREAT DEAL OF STUDY.

    HOWEVER, THERE ARE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS WITH DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS:

    EXAMPLE OF WHAT CAN GO WRONG:

    AN EMPLOYEE WORKS AND CONTRIBUTES TO THIS 401 K PLAN FOR 25-30 YEARS, THEN, JUST A YEAR OR TWO BEFORE RETIREMENT…ANOTHER STOCK MARKET DROP {RECESSION} TAKES PLACE….THE 401 K PLAN LOSES HALF OR MORE OF IT’S VALUE…

    UNFORTUNATELY, THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME FOR THE 401 K PLAN TO RECOVER, BEFORE THE EMPLOYEE’S RETIREMENT TAKES PLACE.

    THAT EMPLOYEE, ON THE VERGE OF RETIREMENT, IS LEFT WITH A VERY SMALL INVESTMENT INCOME…AND MUST GO INTO RETIREMENT…BASICALLY BROKE.

    THAT IS WHY A “DEFINED BENEFIT PLAN” IS CRUCIAL…IT IS STRUCTURED OVER A 30 YEAR PERIOD…SO THAT SUCH RISKS ARE SPREAD OUT OVER 30 YEARS AND IS CONSTANTLY ADJUSTED TO MAXIMIZE THE INVESTMENT RETURNS & GREATLY ELIMINATES SUCH RISK.

    CITIZENS SHOULD WATCH THE TELEVISED PENSION BOARD MEETINGS, AT A MINIMUM, YOU WOULD LEARN A LOT ABOUT MANAGING PENSION FUNDS.

    HOWEVER, ONE POINT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED…THE CITY OF SARASOTA, AS THE “OBSERVER” ARTICLE MENTIONS, WANTS TO GO TO THE “DEFINED CONTRIBUTION” PLAN…WITHOUT REALIZING THE SIGNIFICANT COSTS & LOSES THAT SUCH A PLAN WILL COST THE TAXPAYER & CITY EMPLOYEES AND RETIREES.

    IN JULY, AUGUST, & SEPTEMBER OF 2010, THE POLICE PENSION BOARD, AFTER HEARING RUMORS OF THE CITY NEGOTIATIONS REGARDING “DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS”, REPEATEDLY ASKED THE CITY STAFF & COMMISSIONERS TO HAVE WORKSHOPS OR MEETINGS WITH THE PENSION BOARDS, IN ORDER THAT THE CITY MIGHT UNDERSTAND THE RAMIFICATIONS & POTENTIAL COSTS SUCH ACTIONS COULD CAUSE.

    SHOULD THE CITY GO TO “DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS”, THERE IS A STRONG LIKELY HOOD THAT EACH PENSION FUND WILL HAVE TO FINANCE THE “COMBINED CONTRIBUTIONS PLAN”…WITH APPROX $ 10,000,000 REMOVED FROM EACH PENSION PLAN…THAT IS A TOTAL OF $ 20,000,000.00 TRANSFERRED FROM THE PENSION FUNDS TO THE ACCOUNTS OF THE EMPLOYEES THAT WOULD BE ASSIGNED TO THE “DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS” PLAN.

    ADDITIONALLY, THE POLICE PENSION PLAN WILL LOSE FROM
    $ 550,000.00 TO $ 650,000 EACH YEAR…IN STATE REVENUE FEES THAT ARE PAID TO ALL PUBLIC SAFETY OPERATED PRIVATE PENSION FUNDS, WHICH ARE REQUIRED TO BE A “DEFINED BENEFITS” PLAN…NOT A DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN.

    THE CITY COMMISSION AND STAFF FAILED TO SET UP A MEETING OF ANY TYPE WITH THE PENSION BOARDS AND CHOSE TO IGNORE THE HUGE LOSES THE “DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS PLAN” WOULD CAUSE TO THE PENSION PLANS.

    SOME WOULD THINK THE CITY…ALMOST INTENTIONALLY, IS TRYING TO SERIOUSLY DAMAGE A NUMBER OF PROGRAMS, INVOLVING EMPLOYEE AND RETIREE RIGHTS AND BENEFITS.

    GO “ON-LINE” AND SEE THE POLICE PENSION BOARD MEETING OF 09-24-2010…AND AT THE END OF THE MEETING, YOU WILL SEE SOME FIREWORKS.

    BUT, BEFORE OFFICIALS & OTHERS MAKE SUCH MIS-STATEMENTS, MAYBE AN IN-DEPTH DISCUSSION OF THE FACTS WITH THE PENSION BOARDS WOULD LET CITIZENS KNOW THE CORRECT FACTS.

    THE CITY BUDGET & REVENUES ARE APPROX $ 131,000,000 THIS YEAR FROM ALL SOURCES, THEN LOOK AT THE PENSION COSTS AND REMEMBER THAT THE MAJORITY OF THOSE FEES COME FROM PROCEEDS FROM THE PENSION FUNDS’ ACCOUNTS & INVESTMENTS.

    BUT REMEMBER SOME OF THE SMOKE & MIRRORS BEING USED IN THE COMMENTS IN THE FORMER MAYOR’S EDITORIAL, AS WELL AS “STATISTICS” FROM CITY STAFF, USED AND LISTED IN “THE OBSERVER” ARTICLE.

    BASED UPON THE CITY’S TRACK RECORD, CITY EMPLOYEES AND RETIREES HAVE LOST THEIR TRUST IN THE CITY OF SARASOTA BEING HONEST WITH THEM, OR OF THE CITY KEEPING THEIR WORD.

    THE CITY DOES NOT WRITE THE PENSION CHECKS…PENSIONS ARE PAID BY THE PENSION BOARDS…WHICH TAKES EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS FROM EACH AND EVERY PAYCHECK…WHICH ARE INVESTED AND THE RETURNS ON INVESTMENTS BASICALLY PAY THE MONTHLY PENSION CHECKS.

    THE CITY COMMISSION AND STAFF HAVE, ALMOST DELIBERATELY, HAVE NOT ADDRESSED THE HUGE LOSSES THAT DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS WOULD COST THE PENSION FUNDS, IF ENACTED.

    ADDITIONALLY, IF “DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS” IS ALLOWED, THE EMPLOYEE BASE FOR SUPPORTING THE TWO PENSION FUNDS WOULD BASICALLY BE FROZEN…AS THERE WOULD BE NO NEW EMPLOYEES TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE PENSIONS FUND’S GROWTH IN FUTURE YEARS, AFTER THE LAST WORKING PRE-93’S RETIRE.

    IF “DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS” IS ENACTED, IT WOULD EFFECTIVELY “SHUT DOWN” THE PENSION FUNDS, LEAVING THEM WITH THEIR CURRENT ASSETS, AFTER LOSING $ 20,000,000.00 TO THE NEW “DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS” PLAN.

    ALL THIS, TO BE DONE TO ALLEVIATE THE CITY FROM PAYING FUTURE FEES FOR HEALTH CARE & FUTURE CITY PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS.

    PENSIONS ARE NOT A FRILL THAT CAN BE IGNORED…I DOUBT THE CITY WOULD TELL THE CONTRACTOR OF THE “ROUNDABOUTS” OR PARKING GARAGES, THAT AFTER THE CONTRACTOR COMPLETES THE JOB, THAT THE CITY DOES NOT FEEL OBLIGATED TO PAY BECAUSE OF “BUDGET ISSUES”.

    THE CITY HAS A MORAL & ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY TO HONOR WHAT THE EMPLOYEES HAVE PROVIDED THE CITY OF SARASOTA…THOSE EMPLOYEES PROVIDED THE CITY WITH A CAREER OF AIDING & PROTECTING THE CITIZENS OF THIS CITY.

    I don't know many people, if you approached them and said "Excuse me, put on this BULLET PROOF VEST...you might need it today" ...that would do this job.

    But the same applies to all employees, they spent a career doing the “job’ for the City of Sarasota…and expect the City to honor those commitments.

    THE CITIZENS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE CITY OF SARASOTA DESERVE TO KNOW THE FACTS, NOT A GAME OF “SMOKE & MIRRORS”. OUR CURRENT & SOME SOON TO BE ELECTED COMMISSIONERS NEED TO CHALLENGE SOME OF THE ALLEGED FACTS BEING PROVIDED TO THEM.

    THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM TO DISCUSS ISSUES & CHANGES, WHETHER A CITY BUDGET OR PENSION PLANS, BUT THESE ISSUES NEED TO BE APPROACHED WITH CARE & HONESTY.

    THERE ARE ISSUES & “TWEAKING” THAT CAN BE ADDRESSED, WITHOUT MAJOR UPHEAVAL…WHETHER IT BE CHANGING CERTAIN TERMINOLOGY, DATES OF RETIREMENT, WHEN COLA BEGINS, ETC…THAT WOULD ADDRESS THESE ISSUES.

    EVEN THE FINANCE MANAGER, POINTED OUT SMALL MODIFICATIONS OF THE PENSION PLAN THAT WOULD REDUCE COSTS SIGNIFICANTLY, YET THE CITY STAFF DECIDED ON A DIFFERENT APPROACH OF “DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS”.

    THE ISSUE HERE IS THAT THE CITY OF SARASOTA HAS NOT ATTEMPTED TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES WITH THE EMPLOYEES OR THEIR REPRESENTATIVE FOR THEIR INPUT AND DISCUSSION. IF THEY WOULD HAVE DONE THAT…THEY WOULD HAVE FOUND A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF INFORMATION THAT WOULD HAVE HELPED EVERYONE TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES PROPERLY.

    THE CITY HAS FAILED TO LISTEN TO ALL SIDES OF THIS ISSUE AND IS NOW ATTEMPTING TO PAINT WITH A BROAD STROKE, WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED OPENLY AND THEN FAIRLY & PROPERLY ADDRESSED.

    THE CITY STAFF HAS CHOSEN THE WRONG APPROACH IN THIS MATTER, WHICH WILL ONLY AGGRAVATE THE CITY’S FUTURE.

    HOPEFULLY, THE CITY COMMISSIONERS WILL SOON REALIZE THIS AND WILL RE-ADDRESS THIS AND SPEAK WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES. DEFINED CONTRIBUTIONS IS A MISTAKE THAT SHOULD BE RE-EXAMINED.

    THE CITY OF SARASOTA NEEDS TO TAKE STEPS TO RESTORE THE TRUST THAT CITY EMPLOYEES AND RETIREES HAVE LOST IN DEALINGS WITH THE CITY OF SARASOTA.

    KEEPING THEIR WORD IS THE FIRST STEP IN THAT PROCESS.

    WHAT I FIND INTERESTING, EVEN TO THE POINT OF WANTING TO PREDICT THE FUTURE…I WOULD SUGGEST THAT IF THE ABOVE AGENDA BY THE CITY IS ALLOWED TO TAKE PLACE…AND THE PENSION & HEALTH CARE ISSUES ARE ELIMINATED AS A FUTURE EXPENSE FOR THE CITY…AND ONCE THE CITY CONTENDS WITH LACKLUSTER & POOR EMPLOYMENT RETENTION & POOR RECRUITMENT…

    THAT IN A FEW YEARS…ONCE THE DUST HAS SETTLED…THE CITY WILL AGAIN OFFER “HEALTH CARE” & PENSION BENEFITS…SO THEY CAN AGAIN GET FUTURE EMPLOYEES TO BUY INTO “THEIR PROMISES”…FOR ANOTHER 25-30 YEARS, THEN THE CITY WILL DO THE SAME THING TO THEM…BREAK THEIR PROMISES AND AGREEMENTS…HISTORY DOES REPEAT ITSELF.

    SO FOR THOSE CITY OF SARASOTA CITIZENS AND EMPLOYEES HAVING CHILDREN IN HIGH SCHOOL NOW…MAKE SURE THEY KNOW, IF CONSIDERING A CAREER WITH THE CITY OD SARASOTA…THOSE FUTURE EMPLOYEES NEED TO KNOW JUST WHAT TO EXPECT IN 25-30 YEARS…

    A SERIES OF “PROMISES”…AND LATER…A SERIOUS BIT OF AMNESIA .

    JUST MY THOUGHTS, BJ SULLIVAN…SPD-RETIRED

  •  
  • BJ SULLIVAN
    Sun 6th Mar 2011
    at 10:17pm
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