Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pension Time Bomb

This doesn't look very good.

George F. Will - Pension Time Bomb -
Mayor Osby Davis, who has lived in this waterfront city across San Pablo Bay from San Francisco for 60 of his 62 years, says: "If you have a can that's leaking two ounces a minute and you put an ounce a minute in it, it's going to get empty." He is describing his city's coffers.

Joseph Tanner, who became city manager after this municipality of 120,000 souls was mismanaged to the brink of bankruptcy, stands at a whiteboard to explain the simple arithmetic that has pushed Vallejo over the brink. Its crisis -- a cash flow insufficient to cover contractual obligations -- came about because (to use fiscal 2007 figures) each of the 100 firefighters paid $230 a month in union dues and each of the 140 police officers paid $254 a month, giving their unions enormous sums to purchase a compliant city council.

So a police captain receives $306,000 a year in pay and benefits, a lieutenant receives $247,644, and the average for firefighters -- 21 of them earn more than $200,000, including overtime -- is $171,000. Police and firefighters can store up unused vacation and leave time over their careers and walk away, as one of the more than 20 who recently retired did, with a $370,000 check. Last year, 292 city employees made more than $100,000. And after just five years, all police and firefighters are guaranteed lifetime health benefits.

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