Lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, football play-offs, our first major snow storm of the year has been the disturbing news stories in recent days of public sector retirement plans and pay scales that are coming off the rails and are being ignored by broad swaths of taxpaying citizens who are going to end up stuck when the bill comes due.
Richmond, with its long and infamous track record for financial mismanagement has the departing Mayor doling out hundreds of thousands in severance bonuses for his crony pals as he walks out the door. It is one thing if these public employees had some contractual agreement in place that compelled the city to do this, quite another when it is left solely in the hands of a politician who has nothing to lose since he is leaving and simply decides to play Santa Claus with citizens money. If a private enterprise did this and a CEO decides to hand out money as he/she departs, the shareholders and investors can utilize the courts to stop it. Absent city council stepping in it is once again the taxpayers getting screwed.
In Chesterfield ,current and former Fire Department Captains are being rewarded with court settlements and negotiated sums running into hundreds of thousands, millions in the aggregate over allegations that they were denied overtime pay for hours worked beyond a customary 40 per week. Depending on job requirements, in the private sector people considered “ management” often working on a set salary and routinely working well beyond 40 hours , and their salary is their salary….overtime isn’t paid. Don’t like it, find another job.
In the bizarro world of government things don’t work that way. Since it is taxpayer pockets that can be raided at every whim ,Chesterfield county taxpayers after the fact—– are being treated as saps , and forced to pay out additional millions because someone decides now Fire Captains should have been paid overtime. Alice in Wonderland comes to mind.
How about this as a remedy ……..decide if Fire Captains are considered management , or not, and set GOING FORWARD who will and won’t be paid overtime ? If Captains ( with six figure salaries ) are not happy with the arrangement……go find another job. If NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR THOSE HIRED AFTER A CERTAIN DATE are that they will not be considered management in the conventional definition, then fine, they will be paid overtime as per the new agreement.
This practice of public sector employees, after the fact wanting to benefit themselves with other people’s money , using the very specious argument about how they should have been paid……yet another example of disgusting mis-management in the public sector. If one takes a job for an agreed upon salary, knowing full well at the time you are hired you would often be required to work additional hours for said salary, then years later whining about not being paid overtime. In the private sector this would be laughed out of any court or arbitration in a minute. It is only when you have the luxury of raiding unsuspecting taxpayer pockets they get away with this crap. There are rules, or should be regarding any changes to compensation after someone agrees to the terms of employment. Seizing on it years after the fact as a means to make a fast buck is despicable.
Also in Chesterfield we have the same dilemma in the public school system with the revelation that a supplemental retirement plan put into place some years back ,initially for a very small and select group—-later expanded to cover just about all school employees, and underfunded for the last 5 years is now blowing up in their faces.
It’s as if the 11 paid federal holidays, 2 weeks off at Christmas, another week at Easter, 8 weeks vacation in the summer, heavily subsidized health insurance, VRS contributions for a defined benefit pension plan, paid disability coverage, subsidized dental etc etc isn’t enough….so the dunderheads running Chesterfield County schools decide they needed in addition to what is listed above, a “ supplemental retirement system”…..and their reasoning ( their own words) is to “bridge these selected public servants until they were ELIGIBLE FOR THEIR NORMAL RETIREMENT PROGRAMS “ ? They already have retirement and other benefits that are the envy of the private marketplace, and now taxpayers are being told we also have to bridge them if they voluntarily chose to retire early—UNBELIEVABLE !
Imagine in the real world if workers who voluntarily decided to retire early would say to the rest of us……….heh, I’m only 55, how am I supposed to get to 65 ? In the real world that is considered something you have to figure out Spanky—–in the public sector the rest of us are expected to tote the load for them. Chesterfield County officials who implemented this supplemental retirement plan (, both county and school officials ) should be tarred and feathered . The plan should immediately be dismantled. Work until normal retirement age or figure it out for yourself like the rest of us.
Members of the G.A this past week have been spouting off about pay in the various state agencies and how they are having retention problems that can only be remedied by Virginia taxpayer’s ponying up some more of their hard earned dough to take care of this privileged class.
Folks—-wake the hell up. Politicians on both sides now recognize public sector employees are a large & treasured voting bloc, and they will buy their votes with the most specious and ridiculous b______ I have ever listened to using your money until you insist it be stopped.
It isn’t by now surprising whenever you hear a politician (or an aspiring one) speak publicly , calling for improvements in state/county employees compensation to remain competitive with the private sector, to retain and hire competent government employees.
When you examine the facts they don’t hold water. When you calculate in totality their compensations monetary value, public sector employees are more than adequately paid for their job descriptions. It is the rest of us, by our collective silence that lend acquiescence to this nonsense continuing. Wake the hell up while we still have time to fix this, otherwise your grandchildren will be stuck with paying these grandiose benefits……when they counted on you to speak for them.
Bob Shannon King William