Sunday, February 20, 2011

Budget Strained By Pensions; Personnel

An interesting opinion posted on the blog "South DeKalb, Stuff About South DeKalb."

Click here.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

We are not surprised, our pension is next on the chopping block. They have about finished penning the new 401k plan following after the City of Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

Its really a shame that our CEO in this county, has managed to screw up the management of the everyday running of this county. There is now nor has there ever been a program for saving tax payers hard earned dollars. I honestly believe that the idiots who are charge on the monies in this county couldn't save a penny even if their lives depended on it.

All these years that have gone by, I cannot ever remember Dekalb County ever having a surplus in the budgets. I know for a fact, that the new fiscal year budget depends a lot on how much was spent in the previous year for the next year's budget to be granted more money than the previous. This is how budgets work in every form of government EXCEPT the federal goverment.

The governments of county, city, state must raise taxes. The fed can simply print more money.

What does all this tell us about our local crooks? It simply states that the word "saving" has never been a part of their vocabulary and never will. So whatever any idiot in charge decides to term the shortage of funds in the county cofers, is nothing more than a total mis-use of taxpayers dollars and nothing more.

"On the good side of the coin", what this county needs is VERY GOOD PUBLIC SAFETY AND LOTS OF IT.
We as taxpayers do not need a large group of freeloaders, a large bunch of inept employees, and a large bunch of idiots who cannot get out of the right side of a bed to go to work.

The idiots of this county need to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE, SAVE,AND SAVE SOME MORE.

The media and the taxpayers will be watching very closely.

Burrell Ellis........ you of all people should pay at least triple the property tax increase for starters for being the idiot that you are !!

Foghorn Leghorn said...

Foghorn Leghorn says...

The one thing that affects the county more than anything else is public safety. If you fail to attract and maintain quality , professional people in public safety then the whole county starts to suffer. Crime starts to rise, businesses begin to close communities begin to blight then people start to move to safer counties to live and raise their families and consequently the businesses move to where the people are...and then the schools begin to suffer. We're seeing it playing out in front of us right now. The next step is our schools losing to SACS....when that happens then its over.

Do you freakin IDIOTS in Decatur not see this problem... One only has to drive down certain areas of this county to get a feel for what is happening. The BOC as ignored the importance of having quality public safety officers and now we're on a path that is probably irreversible. You have continued to ignore trying to attract good quality people and now there is no way in hell we can get the sort of people needed to turn this place around. The Public Safety of this county is lost. There is no more life left in it....it's on a ventilator and the power has just been cut off

Thanks a bunch BOC and to you MR. Ellis.....you all have failed me and every other citizen in this county.

TiQuavious from Tucker said...

I will not support any tax increase until more cuts are made and the pension issue resolved. No more splost, no increase in millage rate, nothing. Too many friends/family/concubines at the DeKalb dinner table. Have any of you served Jury Duty lately? pay attention to how many DeKalb courthouse employees are standing around chatting, texting etc. Guess who is paying them??

stevie said...

join the police officers annuity. a penny is a penny. he who leaves with the most pennies wins. watch out for yourself and your family. IF it gets better, it will be a LONG while.

Anonymous said...

per the link........." Add to that the downturn in the stock and bond markets, and local goverments are finding it hard to keep pace with the required minimums set by law. So what is the solution?"

Except for the downturn in the stock market between October 2007 to March 2009, where most of our pension investments should be as far as I'm concerned, the stock market has been in a BULL Market BEFORE AND AFTER the down turn. I question the investment philosophy of our pension board and the investment advisors that the pension employees. In fact from the low of the S%P 500 in March 2009, it has doubled from the lows. Our investment advisors should be questioned as to the how and why's of their investment philosophy. I just don't understand why the pension is in a hole here. Do you? I have recoverd all of my losses in my deferred comp and I'm an idiot. Why hasn't our pension reeled in a boat load in at least three years?
I see an attack on our pension coming with no defense on our part from the BOC. I think that we all should be very concerned about this.....and do something about it. We need someone defending the pension.

Anonymous said...

If you are a vested employee I hope you are reading this on your mobile device while driving to Decatur to freeze your retirement. Everyone has known this was coming for some time now.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that he county has maintained, only because they are forced by state law,is the pension. Now this idiot who wrote the article wants the county to raid it so that property taxes dont go up. If county gov. is now to big due to the economy then the county needs to reduce the work force, not by the pension, and cut back on its spending. The liberal spending is out of control.

Nathan said...

in reply to anonymous @1030, As the idiot who wrote the "opinion" piece, Not one time did I write or infer that the pension fund be raided to offset budgetary losses. What I propose is, going forward, to use a 401k style program instead of a pension system that has probably out lived its usefulness. I have gone on the record several times and stated that Public Safety is a sacred cow, not to be sacrificed under no circumstance. But that does not mean that we cannot look at alternatives to help fund the retirement of employees.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, the problem with moving away from the pension is it will still have obligations to meet. Everyone who put into it and retired is still owed what they were promised. Everyone who has put into it is still owed what they are promised. If employees stop contributing to the pension and move to a 401k system, where is the money going to come from to pay the obligations the pension already has? If someone retired last week at 55, the pension owes them for the rest of their life. The pension isn't a bottomless pit of money. It's going to run out if someone isn't putting money into it. Where is that money going to come from?

Anonymous said...

Nathan,

It is an interesting article and I enjoyed reading it. You make some valid points. You should consider commenting on this blog more often. While I feel there are things that they just do not understand, I enjoy reading an outsider’s (outside of our police department) perspective on some issues. There is routinely very rough talk on this blog. But hey, these are rough times so it is understandable.


In your article you state, “Way back in the day, government employees were compensated less than their private sector counterparts.” I can make a strong case, that in terms of salary at the local level, that is still the case today. If you were including federal employees, which I assume you were not, then you may have a valid point. Simply put, if you are just speaking of local govt. employees, I feel your comment is misleading.

More often lately we see comments on this blog comparing us to the private corporate sector. These comments usually cause a great deal of anger amongst my fellow officers and serve little other purpose. As a police officer, just who are my private sector counterparts anyway?

In the interest of fairness I feel you should have pointed out that DeKalb County employees are paying considerably more for their pensions and health care. Your article may give the impression that the local government employees are getting a completely free ride which is just not accurate.

Nathan said...

to Anon @1124 That is a great question. Where will the money come from? My lay knowledge of pensions aside, I would think that you could redirect new employees into a new system funded via a 401(k) or (a) style system. any existing employee would have the option to continue in the pension as is or move to 401 system. As time goes by fewer would be in the old system, requiring less money to fund it. Now that said, there will probably be some short term pain for tax payers as well as pensioners. Tax dollars, lower payouts or more contributions would have to support the old system until it can be completely phased out. Though I am not an expert on pension funding, I would have to think that there is a way to have a viable retirement system for employees that gives them more control, for better or worse, of their own retirement security.

Anonymous said...

Nathan @ 10:53...
You are right, you did not suggest the pension be raided... The pension fund is one thing, and the budget is another except that the budget must maintain a solvent pension fund. My fear at this point, is that people may get the wrong impression about the DeKalb County pension and confuse it with the issue in Wisconsin where union members are adamantly opposed to paying anything for their pension, or healthcare for that matter. Everyone should be clear that the DeKalb pension has always been supported by employee contibutions as well as contributions by the county. Our pension is not one that is paid 100% by taxpayers or even at the $57 taxpayer funded dollars for every $1 paid by the employee as in Wisconsin. DeKalb maintained a very healthy pension for most of the many years I was there. The problem now is not so much that the cost of the pension has gone up (although it has) as much as the contributions were reduced years ago. Now, because of a number of factors (a down market, money given to the county to pay for early retirements, reduced contributions and maybe some mismanagemnt) the fund must be more heavily funded to maintain it's solvency. In short, the taxpayers today are having to pay the price for actions by previous administrations who reduced contributions to balance budgets back in the day. And for anyone who is interested, look squarely at Elaine Bowyer who has sat on the Bd. of Comms. for years and did everything she could to shut down even a hint of a tax increase. The county stagnated for years because of the actions of Bowyer and the other "4 housewives" who sat on the commission and stifled any progress by the county by killing any tax increase. Personally, I would have preferred to continue making contributions at the same level rather than reduce them to save a few dollars. At least then, the pension would have continued to grow and maybe not face the funding troubles they face now. But the county had to save a dollar by reducing their contributions back when things were good and the fund was growing. Now, it is make-up time, and it is like the escrow account for your home mortgage. When there is a shortage, you have to pay to bring it up to a minimal level to meet the pending debts in the coming year. Same thing with the pension fund; it MUST be funded. The taxpayers won't like it anymore than paying a bigger house payment. The real victim here is the employee, who must fund a pension to get less benefit than those who went before him. They pay more to ensure the pension can pay for those who have retired already and when their time comes, they will draw a reduced benefit for more contributions. But do not be mislead into a comparison between DeKalbs pension and a union pension such as the teachers in Wisconsin or the GM workers in Detroit. The union pensions are the real killers of budgets, not those structured as DeKalb's pension is.
As for those who find themselves facing reduced pension benefits, I feel your pain, but it is a well known fact that defined benefit pensions have been disappearing for years. It is not surprising that it is coming to point where it will likely be eliminated entirely in lieu of a 401K type system seen in the private sector. You have my sympathy, but I doubt that it will be of much use to you. Good luck in your effort to salvage your retirement.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much but I do know the WE NEED TO KEEP THESE IDIOTS AWAY FROM OUR PENSION !

Anonymous said...

The Pension would not be in jeopardy if the liberal government wasn't hiring redundant and useless positions to fullfill campaign promises and to lube the tracks for their post political careers. Slim down the government and let the pension take care of itself. Yes private sector does offer 401ks, but they also get to negotiate their salaries and compensation packages. County employees don't get to negotiate anything. Police and fire signed up to serve the public good and place their lives on the line each day for the citizen's wellbeing. They get minimum pay for making that sacrifice. Most of us have 4 year degrees and could do other jobs that pay better, but we answered a calling. We do this job because we love what we do, not because we are getting rich at the taxpayer expense. Granted not all officers and firefighters fit that description, but most do. Most of us haven't seen a raise in 4 years. My paycheck today is the same as my paycheck was 4 years ago. We don't get many benefits as county employees and we don't have many carrots left to entice bright young minds into this dangerous career field. Don't take away what little we have left for a quick fix. Look at the bloated county government and CEO postion as ways of saving cash. If the county paid us a more competitive salary then maybe a 401k would eventually work, but your still leaving a lot of previous employees hanging out to dry by cutting off funding to the pension. Ask yourself if after serving for 30 years they deserve that. Blame the county leaders for our problems, not the employees that serve you.

Anonymous said...

All this talk of the pension, am I the only one that hasn't seen a balance statement in forever??? They used to publish them quarterly but since the early retirement happened we haven't seen one. So where is it???????

Anonymous said...

What burns me up regarding the fiscal situation of ALL state, counties, cities is that public employee pensions DID NOT cause these governments to go into a hole...they were affected by the economy tanking just like everyone else as well as underfunding for years - promising taxpayers something for nothing. That worked for awhile until Wall Street blew a gasket and went down the rat hole. Now, the only cash (in some instances - if the municipality hasn't already gotten to it)these municipalities have are tied up in pensions. Tough noogies!!! Make the tax payer pay for services and leave our pensions alone!!! Do not raid our pensions to balance your stupid budgets. Maybe DeKalb does have a bunch of redundant employees...well, take care of it. But, do not expect ME to bear the effects of YOUR (tax payers & politicians) bad judgements. Yes - I worked for years for less than what I would have made in the private sector...but, I was promised certain benefits. Period. And, don't think for a moment that I will give these benefits up without a serious fight.

LoFlyer said...

To Nathan, welcome aboard and we welcome your thoughtful debate. It allows a platform to explore the issues and mis-conceptions of the public to what is going on around DeKalb county government and allows cops and the employees to understand the citizens view.
As had been said before, Rank 'n file DeKalb employees are woefully underpaid, in my case I was making about 15 percent less than my counterparts in Fulton or Gwinnett. We work harder than our counterparts in other counties, my vendors would walk into make a pitch, look at the size and complexity of the network, and invariably ask "where are the rest of you?" "We are it." we would cheerfully reply. We built a state of the fiber optic network for a total cost of about 5 million dollars, including labor for the county. The network is valued at worth about 400 million dollars.
My section is undermanned and overworked, as these cuts come down from the BOC the only place to cut back without cutting staff is maintenance contracts. This means when a network device goes down instead of getting a replacement in six hours it could take three days to get a replacement. Many departments are totally reliant upon computers to do their jobs. Instead of 120 employees down for six hours, they will be down for three days. Instead of 720 lost hours of productivity the county would lose 2160 hours of productivity. As you can see, cutting back on some critical departments and sections can have very expensive outcomes.
Increasing the county government has become more stratified, the CEO and BOC are nearly inaccessible to the average employee. The BOC's and CEO's staff make top-dollar, have benefits and allowances unavailable to the average employee.
The management positions mushroomed after Vernon took office, a fifty percent increase in highly paid management positions, I have noted many employees who are Assistant directors with less duties and responsibilities as myself.
We have departments that could be totally eliminated and the citizens would not notice the loss, specifically Economic Development, Extension Services and most of the sections under the CEO's office excepting DKTV. You got to have them to advertise how hard the CEO and BOC is working! (I like the DCTV guys).
Nathan, as you can see there is a lot of excess areas in DeKalb government and employees that can be cut without harm to the quality of life of DeKalb citizens.
The BOC is the worst I have seen in 25 years. They sit on their ass and do nothing but stupid stuff that make matters even worse and only pisses off the employees when they find the BOC giving their staff raises and the CEO's staff receiving a 6000 dollar a year transportation allowance when DeKalb employees can not be compensated for use of their own vehicles and gas, nor receive raises.
DeKalb government effectively has two classes of employees, "The haves" and the "have nots". 90 percent of the employees are in the "have nots" class and there is no dialog between the ruling "haves".
The haves are more concerned with "having" rather than "giving" good leadership, good efficient government, or integrity and honesty in their activities. They appear lazy and non-productive. The solutions they come up with are simplistic, naive and non-creative.
Many of the solutions offered by the BOC is simply making the "have nots" employees take salary cuts and pay for more of the benefits, which is already higher than surrounding counties. After screwing the "have nots" the "haves" will frequently celebrate with an all expense paid seminar out west so they can network and run for national offices.
If the "haves" cared about the county citizens and employees half as much as they care about themselves. The county could turn things around.
Thanks for your participation, I welcome your input!
Ken Choate

Anonymous said...

How is it that a man can get arrested for "allegedly" soliciting sex at an Atlanta Airport in 2007 and in 2010 he's appointed the DeKalb County Pension Board? Chairman?

And, who had the bright idea that he's the man for the job? There was no vote. Uhm? I'm supposed to trust he can manage a pension fund?

Clayton County terminated him and he resigned his chair on the Marta board. But hey, no problem, just appoint him chairman of the DeKalb County Pension Board. I'm absolutely sure that putting millions and millions of dollars before his eyes will make him a better man.

How is it that he's invested in acting prudently with the pension fund? I'd really like to know.

Facts are facts my friends, there's a fox in the chicken coup.