Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Vallejo Example

Okay, so now I'm becoming *that guy* that's yelling about this public sector pay issue on all the local blogs. This snippet below is cut-and-pasted from an article about Vallejo, CA:
Blame Vallejo's politics, dominated by public-sector unions, for the city's sorry fiscal situation. “Police and firefighter salaries, pensions and overtime accounted for 74 percent of Vallejo's $80 million general budget, significantly higher than the state average of 60 percent,” reported a 2009 Cato Institute study. The study highlighted a shocking level of enrichment: pay and benefit packages of more than $300,000 a year for police captains and average firefighter compensation packages of $171,000 a year. Pensions are luxurious: regular public employees can retire at age 55 with 81 percent of their final year's pay guaranteed, come hell or a stock-market crash. Police and fire officials in Vallejo, as in much of California, can retire at age 50 with 90 percent of their final year's pay guaranteed, including cost-of-living adjustments for the rest of their lives and the lives of their spouses. And that's before taking advantage of the common pension-spiking schemes that propel payouts even higher.

When a city spends so much taxpayer money on retirees, it doesn't have much left over for services that might actually benefit the public. That's why Vallejo has been slashing police services and has even warned residents to use the 911 system judiciously. “Since 2005, the number of police officers has dropped from 158 to 104,” a San Francisco Chronicle editorial about Vallejo pointed out recently. “In 2008, Vallejo had a higher violent crime rate than any other comparable city in California.” And it isn't just public safety that has suffered. A 2008 Chronicle article reported on a budget plan that “cuts funding for the senior center, youth groups and arts organizations, to the dismay of residents.” Citizens complain about an increasingly decrepit downtown.

1 comment:

C R Krieger said...

Retired pay (and Social Security) is going to loom larger and larger as time passes.  The bargain struck decades ago for public employees, saying lower pay but better benefits, has run its course.  I say that as the son of a Civil Servant and as a military retiree with two brothers who are retired Civil Servants (actually, I need to check on that—one of them may have left before he was invested).  We changed the bargain, but didn't adjust all the terms.  That said, my 16 years in the public sector saw my promised retirement change over time, and not for the better.

Some things out there are just not sustainable at current rates.

Regards  —  Cliff