And of Course It Requires Public Safety Employees to Suffer For It
THE MAYOR OF HOUSTON, TEXAS, Annise Parker has already told the fire department to whack $22 million from its budget for next year, a proposal that can only be met with a high number of layoffs. This past Tuesday her administration offered a deal by saying that if the city cut back on its mandated contribution to the police and firefighters' pension plans, then those savings could be used to offset other budget cuts that the mayor asked for.
The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday:
City Attorney David Feldman and Finance Director Kelly Dowe already have asked firefighter pension executives to accept $14 million less than the city's obligation to the pension system for the fiscal year that begins July 1. They plan to ask police for cuts as well, they said.
"We asked them to work with us to determine whether we could reduce the amount paid in, and I pledged that concessions made would offset cuts made to the fire department," Parker said Tuesday.
Firefighter pension leaders who met with Feldman and Dowe at City Hall late last week said they were told that the city would be laying off between 200 and 300 firefighters, as well as closing some stations. They talked of the administration's desire to reduce the pension payment by $14 million during the same discussion.
"We feel like it's an ultimatum. The result is, from their perspective, to make the pension plan look bad so they can pass their budget," said Christopher Gonzales, executive director and chief investment officer of the Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund. "They're balancing the budget on the backs of the firefighters, and that's unfair."
In Houston it's the pension board and not the city council that determines the amount that needs to be provided each year based on actuarial results that show how much is required to maintain the funds' future obligations.
One public finance expert, John Diamond told the Chronicle, "If you don't pay it now, you're just going to have to pay more later. Basically, they are kicking the can down the road so politically they look good."
Read the entire article in the Chronicle HERE.
Firegeezer notes that this same type of procrastination is what has already put so many states' finances in the tank. And rather than eliminate non-essential functions, they blackmail the citizens by eliminating public health and safety obligations.
Hat tip: Jack R.
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