homepage logo

Fiscally prudent and responsible

By Staff | Dec 29, 2010

To the editor,

Mayor Kevin Ruane and Councilman Marty Harrity hit the bull’s eye. They are looking out for the public’s interest with their comment(s) that… (Ruane) “This is not political.” and “The concerns that I have about this are purely business.” (Harrity)“…I have to do the best job that I can to spend taxpayer’s money as wisely as possible,” regarding their positions to not accept the proposals of the Special Magistrate and Roy Gibson, AFSCME Employee Representative concerning the City of Sanibel Council’s rejection of maintaining the 3.0 percent rate for each year of a public employees’ service.

Example: If you worked for the City of Sanibel for a period of 10 years and retired, resigned or were terminated, you would earn 30 percent of your salary at the designated age for collecting a retirement salary benefit; if you retired after 30 years of service, you could earn 90 percent of your salary.

The City Council’s (City Manager) position(s) of the yearly rate for service be reduced from 3.0 percent to 1.68 percent is legally defensible and is fiscally prudent and responsible. State, county and other cities public employees, whether you are a teacher or a service worker as members of the Florida Retirement System, earn 1.6 percent for each year of service. Therefore, a public employee who retires after 30 years of public service at 1.6 percent would receive approximatley 48 percent of their salary as a retirement benefit.

The role, relevance and reality that the State of Florida, its 67 counties and 411 incorporated cities are that those governing bodies are having to grapple with reduced revenue streams due to the reduction in assessed values of real property. This vexing economic condition has caused a fiscal funk, which means that citizens do not want increases in their taxes, which politicians have echoed in their election campaigns. It has caused governments to seek cost cutting measures.

The reality is personnel costs are the largest and most disproportionate piece of a government’s fiscal pie. The City Council is correct for wanting to recalibrate and reduce the 3.0 percent rate to a 1.68 percent rate. This plan of the City Council will rein in future costs to taxpayers and it will result in a long-term cost savings plan for the taxpayers. It will also assure city employees of having a retirement plan that will be solvent without them having to make increased contributions from their salaries in order to maintain the current rate of 3.0 percent, which will undoubtedly undermine the sustainability and solvency of the city’s pension plan.

Lastly, the city needs to eliminate any form of a housing allowance for city employees who are making over $130,000 per year in salary along with any form of city contributions to their personal retirement funds.

Steve Maxwell, M.P.A., Ed.D.