Political Wonk, Charity Ronin & Oracle Hack

With all of the Buffoonery He allows, God must have a great sense of humor.

Open Letter to Kathy Ward

Posted by Mike O on August 25, 2010

Many thanks for coming by to our group to explain the County benefits issues to us.  Sadly, I must disagree with your decision on it.

First, let’s review the situation in the private sector, which is where the support for the public sector must come (something never to forget).  Unemployment is up over 7% in Collin County;  those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs are taking major pay cuts (5% is typical, which is what we took), and/or expected to work longer hours (my wife is up to about 55 hours a day and the outfit I just left to physically survive was staffing projects at 20% of what was needed).  We are getting hammered every year on benefit costs, paying more and more, with Obamacare making this year absurd for my new mid-sized employer; the total benefit package is costing the company nearly 40% this year!  One member of our company has already figured he’ll be out nearly $4,000 more this year for his already high family medical expenses.  This is the real world, where expenses and and income must meet.  The taxpayers simply have significantly less income to work with.

In terms to the County situation:  It really comes down to multiple issues of costs, one of the few of which the County has control over is the matching amount.  Only the best companies around still match at 100% for 6%, maybe 50% for another 3%; most have a 5 year requirement (better than the county’s 8 year).  Matching of a total of 17.5% with a 7% return requirement???

I agree the 7% and lack of tiers are bigger issues; but those are not the issue before the Court and there is no guarantee those will be appropriately addressed in Austin (You would have thought Voter ID would have passed last year).  What can be addressed is the extreme matching discrepancy from the reality of the world.  Your argument about competing for police officers has some merit, but can be addressed separately with police pay adjustments if needed; those officers represent only a small fraction of the employees involved.  As for other entities, they are also under stress and I will lay odds a number of them are looking for someone to set the example of fiscal restraint. This may serve as a catalyst for others to take the path to log-term sustainability.

Our group supported you under the banner of fiscal responsibility; I hope you’ll rethink your position to back this first step to reduce it to 150% which- once (or if) the economy improves- can be revisited as needed.  But, for now, the precedence to view the private sector is the payer and as the model to emulate is critical to make.  This may not set well with the 1,900 county employees, but now awareness of the cushy matching arrangement in the taxpaying public- especially the newest actists in that population- possibly the hundreds of thousands of strained taxpayers must be considered first.

We will be there watching; we entered this political fray for the long haul and we are NOT going away.  And neither is our demand for greater realworld accountability, as the Plano City Council is apparently aware.

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5 Responses to “Open Letter to Kathy Ward”

  1. […] One NTTP member’s view here, as a response to Kathy’s visit to the NTTP meeting. […]

  2. Don’t listen to Keith Self, don’t even listen to the Collin County employees. Instead, look at the figures just released by TCDRS specifically for Collin County and decide for yourself. TCDRS, Texas County and District Retirement System, manages all member pensions for counties in the state of Texas.

    http://ccdatx.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/aug-27-final-collin-county-retirement-plan-briefing/

  3. Mike O said

    The ‘facts’ present by the deputies sight are incomplete and cherry-picked. And, considering the stunt they pulled to take over the commissioner’s court room, keeping average taxpayers out until they packed every seat with themselves and county employees (who were allowed to cme in from restricted areas), they don’t seem interested in a fair exchange of ideas. They mad it quite clear they feel the courthouse belongs to them, not the people.

  4. Matt Sifuentes said

    Mike your smart look at the TCDRS web site. You sir seem to be the one that is not interested in any facts. I kept hearing about sustainability, well present some FACTS to show that. YOU CAN’T thats why you havant. Like Ronald Reagan said FACTS ARE STUPID THINGS and DON’T BE AFARID TO SEE WHAT YOU SEE. You keep saying that our retirement should be more like that of the privite sector, well sir i believe that many privite sector employers had to be bailed out by the evil goverment so millions wouldant lose their jobs.

    • Mike O said

      The number that came out in the hearing that mst caught my ear was ‘84% covered’ in terms of retirement. I would love more clarity on that, but the accountant who was on your side, clamed up real quick after that. What that number meant needs to be dscussed, for one thing. If that is coverage for future liabilities, it needs to be at least 100% (since projections are often off it should be even more).

      The web site gives only a PARTIAL view of the compensation picture, does it not? I have REPEATEDLY asked for a TOTAL view.

      I will ask for those comparative numbers again here:

      Pay: min – avg – Max by job classifications where there are 7 or more employees (The 7 employee minimum will prevent discerning any individual compensation). Managers at the same level can be lumped together.

      Years of service: Average and Maximum – by job class

      Non-tax Withholdings (employee benefit costs): split up the same way

      Retirements: over the last decade by job class: (if 7 or more employees)

      Min- Avg – Max: composite figures of years of service and retirement pay

      Age ranges at retirement as well.

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