Firefighters propose cuts

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Bob Wells, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. Henry Apfelbach

    Henry Apfelbach Beach Lover

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  2. 30ashopper

    30ashopper SoWal Insider

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    No I do not, and I think the 25 year term is perfectly understandable.

    What I am questioning:

    1) are the members of the union currently overpaid when you take into account salary and benefits?
    2) Is there an unfunded liability with the pension fund?

    If yes to 2:

    A) how serious is the problem?
    B) should firefighters and/or the county be contributing more?

    I like running forward looking scenarios, and I'd like to do that on the fund. As I've mentioned previous the core problem with any defined benefits pension system is that none of the active players have the incentive keep the system on sound financial footing. The union constantly works to increase benefits - which increases liability. Elected officials constantly work to keep taxpayer contributions to a minimum, and it seems in our case have let the union walk all over them in the past during negotiations - which increases liability. So here we are in a very typical fiscal situation where the pension fund is underfunded but by how much we do not know as the actuarial studies aren't using the right assumptions. (As I previously stated I'm amazed something like this could come about in Walton County.)
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2011
  3. 30ashopper

    30ashopper SoWal Insider

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    Someone must have copies of the actuarial studies that have been done in the past. As a basis that's really all we need. From that we can figure out typical return rates and wage increase history, both of which are key to figuring out what state the fund is in.
     
  4. 30ashopper

    30ashopper SoWal Insider

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    I don't care how much firefighters in the district make, as long as there is no long term liability in the pension for taxpayers and the taxes levied on the citizens are reasonable when compared to the services they receive.


    Bob, you don't seem very concerned about the state of the trust fund that will pay your benefits, why is that? Is this not something you should concern yourself with?
     
  5. Diane

    Diane Beach Comber

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    As long as you brought up the raises in 2006, I just want to clear something up for the taxpayer's sake. When the raises were proposed (and I believe some raises were up to 27%) the two civilians working for the District at that time (myself and the fiscal officer) were told by the fire chief at that time, that we would also be included in these huge raises. When it came time to finalize the details, Mr. Abbit met with the former fire chief and told him that the support staff was not to be included in these huge raises, that we were support personnel and were not to be included because our value to the District was not the same as a firefighter. I was personnally told this by that fire chief. There was also a salary survey taken of my position and the fiscal officer's, which provided salary information that relayed that we were "underpaid" compared to other District's in the surrounding area, just like the salary survey did for the line personnel. Shortly after these raises and the former fire chief departed, the commissioners voted themselves their stipend. Just my opinion, but it appeared to me that two members who worked just as hard as the firefighters (maybe not at as high a risk level) and certainly worked more hours than the commissioners (no high risk going on there), were not included because of a commissioners opinion of support personnel.

    Also, in the 2009-2012 negotiations, there were no raises negotiated, but every firefighter received an increase of 100 hours each of paid time off (in my opinion, time is money). This lead to line personnel taking more time off (I don't blame them, if you give someone more paid time off they are going to use it)and increased the overtime paid out to extraordinary amounts. So much so, that the District had to implement Adaptive Staffing in order to try to cut down on overtime.

    Just wanted to clear that up for what it's worth.
     
  6. 30ashopper

    30ashopper SoWal Insider

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    Diane, any idea what the PTO schedule is for current firefighters? This doesn't seem to be part of the pension agreement, so I'm assuming we have some other form of agreement with the union. I wonder how all these extra benefits are tracked.
     
  7. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    100 hours of paid time off - hell yes that is a raise!

    Question - what exactly do Fire Commissioners do? I am wondering if both fire and mosquito commissioners are positions we could reduce or eliminate.
     
  8. Diane

    Diane Beach Comber

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    I used to know, but truly can't remember right now. It is public record. You can make a public records request, which is very easy or you can call the fiscal officer at the District and they may even tell you over the phone. It is not part of the pension, it is in the Union Contract (Collective Bargaining Agreement 2009-2012). There are tracking mechanisms in place for all benefits and they should be able to provide that information also quite easily.

    Thanks.

    I forget to mention in my earlier post that the administrative personnel did not receive the extra 100 hours and are not part of the union contract.
     
  9. Diane

    Diane Beach Comber

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    Glad you agree. I thought it was a poor decision to make during difficult economic times.

    I have no idea what the "mosquito commissioners do", which is my own fault for not staying informed regarding taxpayer funds. I do believe they receive a stipend also, but not certain about that or any other benefits they may receive.

    As for fire commissioners, I'm sure someone will get into some lengthy detail about what they do; but from what I have observed, it's not that difficult; and as all things in life, some take it very seriously and others don't appear to, but for $500 a month they should all be taking it extremely seriously. They are elected officials with responsibility for the spending of taxpayer money.
     
  10. Henry Apfelbach

    Henry Apfelbach Beach Lover

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    If you want to see what the PTO chage was go to www.local3516.com and find the tab for contracts. You can see the last three contracts there and you can see the changes to the Leave sysem. under the current contract Article 14 is PTO.

    Diane, I know the conventional wisdom was that when we changed over there was more Overtime becuase of the leave. I asked one day if anyone had run the numbers to see how many hours were actually used. With no suprise at all no one had. We (labor) went back and based on the daliy staffing counted up all the Unscheduled Paid time Off (which is what causes overtime) and to our suprise the year before we had the increase in leave there was 500 more hours of sick time/UPTO used. In fact with the exception of the first two months after we started the consolidation of time, the useage has been less every month than the same month the year before.

    The increase in PTO that is mentioned was not just given out. If you look in previous contracts you will see that we got the same ammount of leave minus 72hrs. We asked for 3 more paid holiday days off. In the previous contract we recieved 3 paid days off for 10 recognized holidays. Admin staff gets all 10 days off including the big ones like Christmas etc. That was the increase we asked for and that was the increase given to the firefighting staff. 72 more hours a year.
     
  11. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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    Our system is in its infancy and as time progress it is my hope that it matures and as I am not a numbers guy I leave it for those who have the responsibility to do it. I will say this, it disappointed me that while Buzz was on the Pension Board he had some what I believe were some valid questions as to the plan but as he decided to bail, I think it will be more difficult for those questions to be answered. What I do know of the plan is there are some very intelligent folks that have a fudiciary responsibility to the plan, NOT THE UNION. I feel the plan administrators who the Pension Board pay have a responsibility to the plan and the State has a certain amount of oversight, so to say I am concerned at this point no, but was hoping personally that Buzz would have stayed to get the answer to some questions he had.
     
  12. 30ashopper

    30ashopper SoWal Insider

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    Only over the short term. There's an inherent flaw in this type of system - the grenade goes off long after those who pulled the pin walk away. Examples are easy to come by in our current economic climate.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2011
  13. Diane

    Diane Beach Comber

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    Hi Henry,

    Well, all I can say is that the 100 hours was discussed by management many times during my tenure and the overtime problem was said to be directly related to the increase in hours, which many considered a raise that the admin staff did not get. I heard this time and again, so I couldn't help but think otherwise. All I am saying, is that if tough economic times were upon the District, I don't think there should have been raises or more time given, which again, time is money.

    Have a good night!
     
  14. Bob Hudson

    Bob Hudson Beach Fanatic

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    Here are the key facts of this discussion in my opinion.

    1. The plan has a $38,131,747 liability to its members as of 10/1/2010. That liability is over the life of the current plan members.

    2. The fund had assets of $13,701,158 on 10/1/2010

    3. The total actual accrued liability(TAAL) on 10/1/2011 was $21,707,011

    4. The unfunded actuarial accrued liability (UAAL) on 10/1/2010 was $8,005,853. That means that the plan is currently $8,005,853 short of where it should have been on 10/1/2010. That 8 million is the 100% funded shortfall. Normal funding heath would be achieved at the 80% level. If we assume that the plan is healty at the 80% level then the acceptable UAAL would be $21,707,001 * 80% = $17,365,600.80.

    That would mean that the asset value of the fund should be $17,365,600.80 rather than $13,701,158.00.

    5. The plan was $3,664,442.80 short of the recommended 80% funded level.

    The study lays out the needs to meet its total liability over the plan study period that would required either plan contributions from tax dollars or employee contributions or investment income in combination to provide that additional $24,430,589 dollars.

    We should accept that the assumptions for investment returns and salary increases are valid and correct.

    The unanswered questions are:

    With the fund over 3 million short of its actuarial needs on 10/1/2010 what impact on the future required payments by the taxpayers will the FF union proposals of:

    (a) A new plan benefit $600-800 dollar monthly stipend payable until the retiree's normal social security retirement age

    and

    (b) A new plan benefit allowing retirement at 80% of base salary at 20 years of service

    and

    (c) A new plan benefit of allowing a lump sum payment of 15%-25% of the actuarial value of the retiree's earned and accrued benefit at the time of retirement.

    Those are substantial changes to the benefits and have tremendous demands made on the plan at a time that it is in a UAAL position of only 63%.

    These seem like valid points to explore and legitimate taxpayer concerns.

    Bear in mind that the current plan study has no provisions for additional firefighters/EMT's for the next 30 years. Which I find unrealistic with the projected growth in South Walton.

    In the movie Jerry McGuire the phrase was "show me the money" in this case I say "show me the study" that answers these questions.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2011
  15. 30ashopper

    30ashopper SoWal Insider

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    I agree we should be looking at the effect of future changes the union is proposing, but I disagree with this. Small errors in these assumptions can lead to very large differences in projected funding levels. These numbers should be based on historical averages. I haven't been able to get a hold of older actuary studies to confirm but based on this one report these numbers are not accurate.
     
  16. idlewind

    idlewind Beach Fanatic

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    I think it is clear that at a time when the district is in deep financial trouble no additional benefits should be added until a realistic plan to cover the plan's shortfall is developed. We owe both the taxpayers and the firefighters a plan that is fiscally sound for the future. To add additional benefits when the current plan is underfunded is reckless. I am afraid that at some date in the future the district will be faced with a plan that cannot pay its debt to the firefighters and a lack of tax money to cover the shortfall.
     
  17. Bob Hudson

    Bob Hudson Beach Fanatic

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    That is exactly the reason I say that you have to assume they are correct. Without proof that they are wrong you assume them correct.
     
  18. 30ashopper

    30ashopper SoWal Insider

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    The current report shows these numbers to be inaccurate. I'm interested in using additional historical data to confirm what the current report shows. If we go based solely on the current report, then these assumptions should definitely change - the assumed salary increases are off, the fund return assumptions are off, and the administrative expenses are currently running ~55% above assumed expenses. With all these errors, my guess is once you dig into it you'll find more problems too.
     
  19. 30ashopper

    30ashopper SoWal Insider

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    It's more than reckless - it's plum wack-a-doodle crazy! :lol:
     
  20. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    No, without proof something is correct, you assume it is incorrect.

    Lack of evidence does not provide a conclusion.
     

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