A hostile feature article in Forbes
magazine about public safety retirement and the DROP program:
Don’t let anyone tell you the American dream has faded. the truth is the U.S. is still minting lots of millionaires. Glenn Goss is one of them.
Goss retired four years ago, at 42, from a $90,000 job as a police commander in Delray Beach, Fla. He immediately began drawing a $65,000 annual pension that is guaranteed for life, is indexed to keep up with inflation and comes with full health benefits.
Goss promptly took a new job as police chief in nearby Highland Beach. One big lure: the benefits.
Given that the average man his age will live to 78, Goss is already worth nearly $2 million, based on the present value of his vested retirement benefits. Looked at another way, he is a $2 million liability to Florida taxpayers.
Read the article HERE
After bashing the fixed-rate pensions, Stephanie Fitch also points out that many municipalities are NOT fully paying for their portion of the contributions to the program. Underfunding the plans will create a later crisis. This is a repeat of what was done in New York City in the 1970s when public safety retirement programs ran out of money.
John Avalon, blogging in The Daily Beast
on December 22, made this point:
The city of Vallejo—population 120,000—declared bankruptcy earlier this year because it was locked into spending 74 percent of its $80 million general fund budget on public-safety salaries. Police captains were entitled to receive $306,000 annually in pay and benefits, while 21 firefighters earned more than $200,000 a year, including overtime. After five years on the job, all were entitled to lifetime health benefits. (HERE)
Some think career public safety employees are “getting away” with a sweet benefit package. The results of decades of negotiations and hard work for staffing, pay and benefits are evaporating.
A PERSONAL COMPARISON
There is tremendous variability in retirement packages. If I went to work in Prince George's County in 1975, I could have retired at 20 years with a package similar to what Chief Goss got from DelRay. I was not interested in a 42 hour a week, 7 am to 3 pm, daywork career. PGFD employees hired after the 1982 budget crisis have less retirement benefits.
At Fairfax County I needed to work for 25 years to get less than half of my final salary as a pension. Worked a 56 hour shift work schedule. The practice of loading up with overtime to boost your annual salary calculations was disallowed before I could retire.
Even with 25 years I retired too soon. A recruit school colleague would tell me about every improvement in salary, retirement calculation and the introduction of the DROP program ... the b@s!ard. Every additional benefit came after extended negotiations by Local 2068 in a right-to-work state.
BACK TO THE BIGGER PICTURE
We may need to reconsider how to define our workplace hazards and describe our working environment. We are in an environment that is hostile to our past accomplishments. Taxpayers could care less about our past concessions.
Mike “Fossilmedic” Ward
Diamond or Dust budget series
From my February 03, 2009 posting