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 on Firegeezer.com.

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Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on February 3, 2009 at 4:59pm
Mike:
At first blush, this looks pretty sensational.
I will have to read the articles in their entirety to form an opinion.
But I got to tell you that it sounds pretty sweet on the surface.
TCSS.
Art
Comment by FETC on February 3, 2009 at 1:20pm
Mike,

First off, the Forbes writer probably is a contract freelance writer who is paid if and when she pens something. What she clearly missed is almost every PSO contributes 10+% from their paycheck. Not 10 dollars a week, we are talking hundreds. Now if the private sector employee contributed those percentages each week, their portfolio would look pretty significant. Another fact is she totally exaggerated the numbers by guessing how long a PSO will live post his or her retirement day.

She even went on to state that, in the past firefighter's tend to die young and it was expected. That is somewhat correct, dependant on how busy the brother was and before the development of the SCBA, the 20-30 year veteran jake was expected to live maybe 5 years after retirement and die of lung CA.

Technology has fixed that specific exposure factor and we are seeing far less lung CA, but what this un-educated writer has missed, is the fact that firefighters are exposed to much more chemicals than ever before and we are dying at much higher rates of testicular; prostate; and colon cancers. Which in my honest opinion, is because the gear has not caught up to the environments in which we are now expected to operate in.

Bottom line is this, my pay is decent, by no means lucrative. My retirement package is part of my benefits, much of which I contributed hard earned money towards every week. But and here is the kicker, I am still unsure exactly how long of a retirement I may enjoy with my family when I choose to say goodbye to the brotherhood.

Oh yea... last time I checked SSN was not funded 100% either... actually the federal government is running a ponzi as today your weekly FICA contribution is paying for last weeks retired guy.

She outta put that in a pipe and smoke it.

TCSS
FETC

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