Submited by : Robert Ford <email@example.com> 9:44 AM
The pension problem was your doing, not mine…
Mr. Pohlmann, the pension mess was your creation, not mine. For most of the period you were on council, pension costs skyrocketed, and pension debt grew exponentially. By 2006 when your council approved even more generous contracts, you assumed ownership for the exploding pension debt. No longer could you blame the previous mayor, since you all ratified an even more generous contract. The problem is that the City never properly funded properly the benefits to which they had agreed. As a result, pension-based debt exploded.
The argument that we paid what the actuaries asked does not hold water. For 10 years in a row, the actuaries were wrong. At what point during that 10 year period, does a responsible person seeing the growing debt to more than $ 40,000,000, does a responsible adult say “I am not going to believe the actuaries any more”.
By law the city must continue pay for the benefits that were obligated by contract and were not properly funded. These obligations will haunt us for many years. Pension debt ranged as high as 42 million, and is only slowly being paid down. This has resulted in more than $2,000,000a year in city payments for pension debt following a state mandated schedule. This was your doing, not mine.
Recent contracts which I have been involved in have realized more taxpayer affordable pensions, for example the cost for a firefighter hired this year is approximately 14.9% of salary similar in cost to our defined contribution programs. Police and PEA pension costs for new hires have also significantly decreased. Over time these reductions will shrink city obligations. We are making progress. We are also paying our full pension bills.
Let me ask a couple of questions.
Is your posting suggesting that we should reduce the pension benefits even further than we have and ask pensioners to supplement their pensions with food stamps in the future? Take a look at our current provisions for police, fire, and PEA and advise as to what more you want cut.
Why the anger at the unions? Over the last two to three years, police, fire, and public employees have ratified contracts that slashed their own pension benefits? They are paying a stiff price for all the years that you did not properly fund the benefits that your council agreed to. The unions have been responsible. They have ratified agreements that have substantially reduced pension benefits. Were they overjoyed to slash their dreams and plans? Obviously, not. However, the unions did the right thing and I applaud them.
Why are you attacking me on pensions? I have done nothing other than try to clean up the mess you handed off to me in a manner equitable to both the taxpayers and the working men and women of Port Orange. I have also made and kept a promise to the taxpayer, I will never agree to any expenditure that the City cannot afford.
Best, Bob Ford
Hello Mr. Don Juan. I would agree with your proposal. Sitting on council for personal gain should not be allowed. It should be outlawed. When I ran for re-election in 2012 I was severely criticized for accepting campaign contributions from a local land developer/residential home builder. I was asked by my opponent at that time, Ted Noftall, if I would recuse myself from voting on any issues relating to this particular developer. I agreed to recuse myself from any votes and stated so publicly. I did not want to appear to favor anyone.
Conversely, I asked my opponent, Drew Bastian, a retired Port Orange Firefighter, with all the union support he needed, if he would recuse himself from voting on firefighter, union negotiated, contracts. Of course the answer was NO WAY. The union financial support paid for the vast majority of his campaign. Take now Councilman Ford, a retired Port Orange Police Chief, who has now won the endorsement of both the police and fire unions. Will Councilman Ford and Bastian recuse themselves from negotiating and voting on the new police and fire union contracts. I would say NO WAY. How will they vote after both have received heavy support from the unions and have secured two solid votes on their next contract.
Or will Ford, Bastian, and the unions delay the final contract negotiations until after the next city election in August or November and see if another former public safety officer, Scott Stiltner, wins election. Scott Stiltner also has the endorsements of both unions. Of course that will give the unions exactly what they want, 3 seats on the city council. Three votes will get the unions a great new contract costing the tax payers millions. Should we expect Mr. Stiltner to recuse himself from union votes as Mr. Don Juan expects of Mayor Green and Councilman Burnette. I would say Mr. Stiltner would say NO WAY. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Mr. Don Juan, what would you say?
I would hope Ford, Bastian, and Stiltner, would do as I did, and publicly declare that they will recuse themselves from now, and in the future, voting on any union related issues. Don’t hold your breath citizens.
My comments should not be taken as a disparaging comment on the professional policeman and policewomen who protect our city every day. They do a great job under the direction of Chief Monahan. I would say the same thing about our professional firefighters. Under the direction of Chief Pozzo they serve our citizens well. The issue is not with all the public safety employees in Port Orange. Policeman and Firefighters deserve to make a decent living with reasonable benefits. The issue is the unions who are out to control the city council. The unions are the ones who will eventually bankrupt our great city.
So Mr. Don Juan, your proposal has great merit. Outside influence on our council should not be tolerated. The question remains, who will Ford, Bastain, and Stiltner support? The interests of the unions or the interests of 56,000 Port Orange residents.