Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Can Employee Health Care Costs Be A Reason Why Utility User Taxes In Sierra Madre Are Highest In The State?


For today I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some hard evidence backing up our claims that Sierra Madre has some of the highest municipal employee health insurance costs in the state. We don't know if they are the absolute highest in California, but having spent some considerable time researching this on the Transparent California.com website (link) it is possible to believe that the answer is yes, they are.

The municipal health care plan outside of Sierra Madre that comes closest is the one offered by the City of Beverly Hills to its City Manager. The number there is $31,000. As you will see by examining the chart below we have five employees exceeding that lofty amount. You can only imagine what you get with that much health insurance.

Robert Fellner, a researcher at Transparent California.com and the provider of much of the information we are sharing with you today, wrote about the consequences of such badly overinflated municipal employee health plan costs on the NPRI website.

Health benefits cost 40% more for government workers than for private workers (link): A new survey from United Benefit Advisors (UBA) reveals some rather unsettling trends in regards to public employee compensation, particularly as they relate to health benefits:

"The survey finds that public employer cost per employee increased 22 percent from $7,001 in 2012 to $8,551 in 2013, while employer cost in the private sector increased only 15.8 percent from $5,226 in 2012 to $6,040 in 2013. The portion an employee pays decreased for both during that same time period, but by nearly 30 percent (or $1,025) for a public worker and only 15.7 percent for a private worker. Taxpayers, therefore, assumed an additional $1,681 or 24.28 percent of a public employee's health care cost."

There is even more cause for alarm than just the continued out-of-control spending and subsequent burden on taxpayers that it creates; a tax included in the Affordable Care Act known as the "Cadillac Tax" will impose penalties on plans that exceed $10,200 for individuals and more than $27,500 for families. 

Thom Mangan, Chief Executive Officer of United Benefit Advisors, reveals just how bad things could get:

"...the average municipality in Illinois and Massachusetts will pay $5,000 per employee in 2018. By 2020, the penalty for family coverage will skyrocket to $9,202 in Illinois and $19,699 in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, those penalties are passed to taxpayers facing their own health care cost increases."

Unfortunately, it appears that this crisis may get much worse before it gets better.

You will notice that the health care cost numbers provided as unfortunate examples in Robert's article are far less than what Sierra Madre is currently paying. And as a city with health care plan numbers that high, we are assured of being charged that $5,000 per employee "Cadillac Tax" in four years. It will be a significant hit.

Then there is this. Perhaps the reason why the costs of health plans for Sierra Madre municipal employees are so high is because the UUT is so high. There is just so much money available at City Hall that spending some of it on $30K health plans is actually possible.

Here is a breakdown of Sierra Madre's health care plan numbers. If you click on this chart it will enlarge. We have highlighted some of the larger amounts. Take special notice of the $37,815 health care plan being provided to our Water Superintendent. It could very well be the most expensive of its kind in the State of California.


City Hall is asking you to vote yourself a 25% utility tax increase in the next few weeks. Before you vote on Measure UUT it is important that you understand exactly why you are being asked to do so. Hopefully the information we have provided for you today has helped.

And now that you know, we'll keep digging.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

61 comments:

  1. All I can say is thanks to the Tattler for doing the heavy lifting on this issue. I've had a few people tell me that they are voting for the UUT Tax. My response is always that until all waste, inefficiences, cronyism and extravagant salaries and benefits to unionized workers have been eliminated from the budget, only then would I vote in favor of the UUT Tax. That's really the issue. Now that the extraordinary health benefits have been uncovered, its just one more reason to vote no on UUT. You can understand whose going to benefit from the tax by who is promoting it. For those who don't look deep enough, they are buying into the union strategy that wants us to always believe that if you don't pass the UUT Tax or any other tax, the only option is to cut some vital city service. When are poeple going to wake up to that fact. The problem is what average person has the time to do what the Tattler does for us. Hopefully, residents will at least take the time to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they cut the benefits to a realistic number, there would be plenty of money for everything.
      Just curious, what are the police benefits?

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    2. Check the chart below. They vary.

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    3. I agree with you 100%. Speaking the gosphel here.

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    4. I'm shocked by these numbers. Look how many are over 8 or 9,000, which is already robbery.

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    5. Where's my calculator? I need to do some adding.

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  2. I didn't know Sierra Madre city hall were allowing "fracking" to be used on tax payers wallets to pay for their own financial mistakes?

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  3. Give them the money, and they will find very creative ways to spend it. $37,810 health plans? Sure, why not? I think we should take the UUT to 100%! Then we can put the Statue of Liberty in Kersting Court.

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    Replies
    1. facts?

      the Mt View News never let "facts" get n the way of the story

      frackin facts

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  4. Anyone who would vote yes on this UUT is either a Sierra Madre city employee or they are mentally ill.

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    Replies
    1. Nancy Walsh is in charge of handing out YES on UUT signs.

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    2. That figures!

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    3. but but but we'll close the library if we don't pass the UUT

      and that's the truth - trust us

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  5. We as a city need to provide our workers with health insurance. We don't need to provide a plan that is this over the top in costs. Who ever set this up is obviously not a skilled researcher. Hopefully with this next election we will get some new blood on the council that can help bring these numbers down. Along with bringing costs down maybe they will bring some professional guidance and supervision. We can only hope.

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    Replies
    1. Elaine Aguilar and Elisa Weaver Cox negotiate these packages. Cox came from the recreation department. When positions were cut she moved from scheduling swimming lessons to negotiating contracts with the unions. What incentive do Cox and Aguilar have to keeps benefits at a realistic rate? NONE

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    2. Then Elaine Aguilar and Elisa Weaver Cox both need to be fired for incompetence or worse. They are damaging the residents of Sierra Madre by foolishly allowing themselves, and us, to be grossly taken advantage of.

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    3. staff is missing IQ pointsMarch 12, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      So in 4 years, the residents will have to pay a $300,000 fine because these benefits are too high?

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    4. That's ok, it's the City's money, not yours.

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  6. If you would like a yard sign that reads: "Vote NO on uut tax INCREASE (see sample on right side of this blog, or on lawns around town), just let the MOD know and one will be delivered asap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. It is important people know where you stand.

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    2. This is crazy. Why weren't we told?

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  7. What benefits do the council members get?

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    Replies
    1. Ones they provide for themselves in their own occupations, yeah?

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    2. City Council members are paid $ 3,000 a year, paid out over 26 pay periods. The City doesn't participate in Social Security.

      No health or pension or car allowance.

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    3. The real reward is they get to play Santa Claus.

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    4. Depends who you are. Some get all expense paid trip to Washing DC to meet with people that have offices in Arcadia.

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    5. Only Directors get a car or car allowance. It is given to help their morale.

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  8. I just don't understand what those kinds of policies entail. Are the people covered forever and ever? All of their descendants as well?
    Mind boggling.

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    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. Great post. Can you rewrite it not using the word fat? I got yelled at.

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    3. since when did the word FAT - excuse me, the F word - become verbotin?

      you have my permission to edit the post (which you have done for me in the past) by replacing the word FAT with chubby, plump, porky, overweight, or as our lovely First Lady with the awesome arms would say, "obese." Unless those words too are verbotin.

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    4. Please post it again 9:33, We want to read it.
      Thanks.

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  9. Thank God for the Mod on this site. He is the man, the myth, the legend! Now we just need to wake as many people as possible to the existence of this site.

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  10. Also, in mass numbers, we need to schedule a visit with Elaine Aguilar or at least call and email her regarding our absolute disgust with how she is handling the action behind the scenes of this cash strapped city. The Mod does more than his fair share, let's do our part .

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  11. I have a question about the health plan numbers. Are these totals the amount that is paid in plan premiums to an insurance company? I just cannot wrap my head around those numbers if they are just plan premium costs. What do you get for $37,000 a year?

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    Replies
    1. A lot of people are asking that. These are hugely expense plans.

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    2. Could the high costs be due to the insurance companies gouging people for pre-existing conditions? If so, the Affordable Care Act changed that. The city employees need to figure it out.

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    3. Cadillac Plans! Woo Hoo!!

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  12. I applaud the city for providing such coverage to them, good for them.

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    1. Truly nothing more heroic than giving away other people's money! So selfless of them! Why later I was thinking of donating a $100 to my favorite charity, but instead of using my own money, I will issue a tax bill for you to pay that $100 instead. Then you can applaud me for benevolence as well!

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    2. How about if you share some of that excessive generosity with the residents?

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    3. Good for "them", 12:57? So you don't live in town?
      You mean good for us, the people who pay the bills?

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    4. Don't forget to thank Council Members Walsh, Harabedian and Moran. Last night, they voted to cap UUT paid on water for businesses in town!

      When do I get my sweetheart deal?

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    5. Absurd hypocrisy. They probably don't even know it.

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    6. 1:23 - you don't get a sweetheart deal but you do get to pay for this one.

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    7. Harbedian, Joshie & Nancy Walsh should kiss the residents before they **** them. Common courtesy.

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  13. Is city hall issuing a big denial? Some sort of clerical error and this isn't true?

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  14. NEWS!
    Somebody owes me $5.00! John Buchanan has a Noah Green sign up.

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    Replies
    1. Johnny B goes Noah Naked. Free mannequins for everyone!

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    2. Damn. I guess I will have to write a check on my anonymous account.

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    3. one lawyer supporting another lawyer

      anybody Buchanan supports is NOT good for the city

      that guy did nothing but promote developement which benefited his utility company employer

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    4. I think John Buchanan liked Noah's facebook pics. They reminded him of the cumquat.

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  15. This $400.00 cap on water for the "big" businesses in town is nothing but crony capitalism.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe it is time for the taxpayers to fund another wine tasting room. Or a mermaid bar.

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  16. Sierra Madre city hall is a surprisingly cushy place to work. You have a fine to great salary, awesome health benefits, and reduced work hours.
    How did that happen?
    I thought we were a small town.

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  17. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/in-san-jose-generous-pensions-for-city-workers-come-at-expense-of-nearly-all-else/2014/02/25/3526cd28-9be7-11e3-ad71-e03637a299c0_story.html?hpid=z3

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    Replies
    1. Our bennies are better than their bennies.

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    2. Sierra Madre, California
      #1 in UUT
      #1 in benefits spending
      #1 in the heart of the POA

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  18. This will not change till we elect concil that gives Elaine the boot and the council tells a new city manager the rules on how the residents want the town run.

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  19. Bell city manager:
    In comparison, Los Angeles County Chief Executive William T Fujioka earns $338,458. The President of the United States earns $400,000 per year. Rizzo also received an unusually large package of benefits, including paid vacation, sick and personal time of 28 weeks off per year. In addition, both Rancho Cucamonga and Hesperia may be obligated to pay significant percentages of Rizzo's estimated $600,000 annual pension, according to Daily Press estimates. Rizzo was in line to receive a pension of $880,000 annually.

    It is apparent where our city manager got her play book.

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  20. Elaine should get the cuffs not the boot.

    ReplyDelete