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Re: “Best of both worlds

This article provides a negative light on an issue that has no cost to the public. I am an employee who is currently on the DROP program, so let me share a bit more information for consideration. For many years, the City and I contributed towards my pension. One of the benefits in place during that time was what was called a Stabilization Reserve Account, or SRA. Each year, the true costs of keeping the pension plan fully funded (no future liability to the taxpayers) was calculated and any of the contributions made by me for that year, which were greater than required to FULLY fund the pension, were set aside in my SRA account. The funds actually remained in the pension fund, so they continued to be used by the fund for investing in financial instruments that returned dividends to the overall fund. The reason for the SRA was, as the name implies, to "stabilize" the fund.

If at the time I retired, the fund remained fully funded and I had any money in my SRA, I would have received the amount remaining in that account. If the cost to keep the pension fund actuarially sound were to exceed the amount the City and I placed in it, the funds in my SRA would be the first to be taken to keep the overall fund solvent, sound, and adequately funded. Again, to keep the public from having any future liability to keep my future pension in place.

The Stabilization Reserve Funds could also be used to increase benefits for the participants, as long as the members of the plan voted to do so, an actuarial study was performed, and the amounts in everyone's SRA's were adequate to fully fund the change in the pension plan. That is what happened in my case. Although I did not vote for the changes in the plan, the vote to allow for a drop passed and the roughly $90,000 sitting in my SRA account was zeroed out and placed into the plan. Also, the SRA was discontinued, so I had no method by which to recoup the funds that I once had sitting there for my retirement.

Fast forward to today. I elect to sign up for the drop program. Here is what happens:
- The City (taxpayer) no longer has to contribute towards my pension. That is a potential 5-year savings in taxpayer funds.
- My pension payment is frozen at a calculated percentage of my base 2011 salary and cannot be increased for the next 10 years. That’s right, no possibility for a raise for 10 years, regardless what happens with the cost of living.
- I continue to work for the City. Somehow this article seems to overlook the fact that I will be working for the salary I will continue to receive. In no way am I receiving something that 1) I haven’t paid for, or 2) is costing the taxpayers a dime.
- If the City were to make me leave and hire an employee to replace me, the City would continue to have to contribute towards the pension of the new employee. For me, they no longer have to pay that cost and I (by contributing my entire SRA fund) have paid the cost of this benefit.

So I have to ask the question: Why is this looked upon by the Independent and others as something underhanded or shady? For the plan that I am a part of, the City’s contribution towards my pension has been relatively small, I have contributed a significant amount of my own money to fund the pension plan, and the City is saving money for as long as I remain on the DROP program.

I must admit that I am very fortunate for having joined the City as an employee nearly 36 years ago. But please, don’t hold me up and claim that I am somehow doing something unethical or illegal in anyone’s eyes because the economy is hurting so many people (me included). I paid for this benefit (it’s called deferred compensation or investing). Could it be that those complaining the most didn’t think 36 years ago when they entered the workforce to gain a skill, get a job, and put away money for the future? The boats and cars and travel that I didn’t enjoy, so that I could set aside money for retirement, were decisions that I made for my future. Please allow me to enjoy my retirement, should I survive to see it.

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Posted by StayinginCS on 08/18/2011 at 4:08 PM

Re: “Our big need: a civic center

This community is so distrusting of government, and its use of tax dollars, that it has turned down votes to construct convention centers at least 3 times. I, too, am amazed when I go to towns much smaller than ours and I see lovely centers that bring in great seminars, shows, and conventions. Unfortunately, the local media pump every negative bad thing about government into the minds of the voters, making it difficult for government to be funded for even the most basic of services. I don't hold out any hope of government successfully driving such a cause. Only if the private sector starts the ball rolling, will such an idea ever stand a chance of coming to fruition. That is sad. I love this community, but its citizens don't know what they have here and haven't demonstrated a vision that would make this city even greater than it already is.

Posted by StayinginCS on 12/09/2010 at 11:33 AM

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