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Replacement of FAC proposed

By Staff | Mar 3, 2012

District 1 Councilmember Marty McClain is poised and ready to follow through on a proposal he made three weeks ago to replace the city’s Financial Advisory Committee.

McClain has put forth a resolution that would repeal the ordinances establishing and amending the FAC, effectively dissolving it.

McClain would put in its place a Budget Review Committee, which the FAC was formerly known as and operated as until several years ago.

McClain said the FAC, a panel appointed by council, has had a long history of skewing the facts and having an agenda.

That is not the purpose of the advisory committee, he added.

“There are items they brought forth that aren’t factually based. Their job is to review financial items and give its recommendation,” McClain said. “There’s an agenda.”

The issue came to a head during the Feb. 13 City Council workshop, where FAC Chairman Don McKiernan gave a presentation regarding the city pension fund and Other Port Employment Benefits and how, the FAC said, these expenses threatened to blow up the city budget.

McKiernan recommended following a pension plan the state of Rhode Island used to save its budget.

McKiernan, who showed figures where the city’s required pension contribution had grown fivefold from 2003-10 and that the unfunded actuarially accrued liability went up more than 16 times, stands by his presentation.

“You can kill the messenger, but it won’t change the message,” McKiernan said in a telephone interview Friday.

McKiernan also previously told council the rise in pension funds was caused by the stock boom of 1980-2000 and that those days were over.

He added Friday that he has been told the Municipal Pension Board plans to meet to discuss reducing the assumed rate of return on pension fund projects.

What’s more, according to news accounts in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota is considering turning over its police operations to the county for many of the same concerns as have been brought forward here.

“It’s been percolating since October because they can’t reach a deal with the police,” McKiernan said. “The unfunded liability is so high, they can’t see how they can pay it.”

But McClain said McKiernan admitted some of the facts he presented were incorrect and that the presentation that brought the controversy to a head was made without approval .

McClain has said the FAC “has been shouting about doomsday for two years when it isn’t true,” and vowed to bring the disbandment of the FAC to the council, which he has, albeit one week behind schedule.

“I don’t have time for a make-believe world,” McClain said. “Support what you say factually and don’t bring up Rhode Island. This is Cape Coral.

“The easiest way to get on track is to disband the FAC and bring back the BRC,” he added.

McKiernan, though, said what he is asking for is reasonable and should put the controversy to rest.

“All I’ve asked for is an independent study of the pensions to see what the problem is,” he said Friday. “When we do that, we’ll get answers.”