Good read: Pensions for local public safety workers skyrocketing

12 May

Pensions for local public safety employees are skyrocketing

In Chico, over half the budget goes to police and fire, which also account for over half the Unfunded Actuarial Liability, a.k.a. Pension Deficit. And it’s what my dad called “Rabbit Math”. The more rabbits you have, the more rabbits you get. The bigger the debt base, the more interest it builds. That means, the public safety portion of the UAL is growing faster than the “Miscellaneous” portion, meaning, all the other city department payrolls. According to Chico Administrative Services Director Scott Dowell, the public safety pension deficit has grown from $42.9 million to $79.1 million in just the last 5 years. All the while, Dowell has been making bigger and bigger “extra” payments to CalPERS – $11.5 million last July – and they just disappear like spit on a griddle. Why?

According to the above article from Capitol Weekly, “In 2018, Transparent California found that the average pension for city or county public safety employees was $108,000 a year.

How is that sustainable, especially considering this little bombshell? “To add to the enormity of this problem, consider that there are more retired firefighters than active firefighters in this state.

These people can retire at age 50 with 90% of their highest year’s salary. In Chico, they get automatic step increases – in other words, just show up, and we keep raising your salary. While they are not allowed to use overtime to “spike”, or raise, their pensionable salary, they are allowed to accrue unused sick pay and vacation and “cash out” in their last year of employment, therefore “spiking” their pensionable salary.

Chico has become “Spike City,” promoting employees in the last year or so before retirement to raise their pensionable salary. They just spiked city clerk Debbie Presson’s salary at a recent council meeting, but this is especially true of the police and fire chief’s positions – look it up yourself, they don’t last five years, and then they’re off with 90% of that elevated salary. New Chief Madden got a $30,000 raise over the departing chief.

As you’d expect, public safety unions always put their money behind tax measures. Chico Area Recreation District Measure A was bankrolled by the Chico Police Officers Association and their president Jim Parrott ran the campaign.

But as you’ll remember, CARD and Parrott had their ass handed to them on a plate, that measure going down to a very decisive defeat. So did two measures in Tehama and Shasta County, both of them promoted as benefitting “public safety”. Whatever that means.

That won’t stop them. In Chico, and over at the Butte County Supervisors Chambers, they’ve signed onto Pension Obligation Bonds – a scheme by which they borrow money to roll on the stock market, hoping to make enough money to pay both the service on the borrowed money and make “extra” payments on the UAL. Sheesh, every time I say that, it sounds stupider and stupider. But I expect we’ll see all kinds of crazy schemes to make the rest of us pay for the UAL.

“In the face of this opposition, union leaders are finding other ways to drum up a steady cashflow, whether it’s through a first responder fee or taking over ambulance services from private industry veterans.

Hey, remember Emergency!, that great old Jack Webb propaganda piece about county emergency services, with real Emergency Medical Technicians? You really believe anything Jack Webb told you? It sounds great – “free” ambulance service! – but they don’t talk about the salaries or the pensions. Capitol Weekly reminds us, “ fire departments may reap a short-term windfall from collecting ambulance fees, they are only adding to their long-term pension obligation.

The unions have a lot of power in Sacramento. “A proposed state law – Assembly Bill 389 – would codify the Alliance model and make all of its anti-competitive antics legal.”

Every scheme the unions put before us leads to a bigger pension deficit. Instead of allowing them to turn our emergency services upside-down “to clean up their own mess“, we need to press for employees to pay more, drastically more, or surrender their ridiculous pensions and benefits. That is an uphill battle, given the money the unions pour into every election. To that end, we have to press our elected lawmakers to restrict PAC spending in elections.

You might feel overwhelmed by the opposition at the state level, but don’t forget – here, we beat the police union on a tax measure. It’s DOABLE.

One Response to “Good read: Pensions for local public safety workers skyrocketing”

  1. bob May 12, 2021 at 2:48 pm #

    New Chief Madden got a $30,000 raise over the departing chief.

    Why? Is he $30,000 better every year than his predecessor?

    And as far as all the other stuff you mentioned, that ain’t gonna end under this council. 6 of the 7 voted for the POB and to advance a sales tax increase so all this nonsense can continue, at least for a while until it all blows up. (Maybe after they are out of office).

    That’s because they are bought and paid for by the public employee unions.

    Why can’t people in Chico understand any of this?

Leave a Reply to bob Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: