Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sierra Madre's Memorandum of Understanding With Its Police Department Ends June 30th - Here is How the City Can Save Itself $200,000 a Year

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Mod: Despite the many questionable claims made by the male faction of the City Council last night, the residents of Sierra Madre are not exactly foaming at the mouth to have their utility taxes raised to state record setting rates of 12% or more. And since John Harabedian doesn't answer his e-mails I am not sure exactly who it is he can claim to be hearing from. But the real mysteries driving the UUT increase have very little to do with anything you might have heard last evening. As an example, here is how Transparent California's Robert Fellner explains how the City can save a lot of money by requiring that employees pay their portion of their own pension benefits. As you will see, past claims of having cut all costs "to the bone" were clearly overstated.

The Sierra Madre Police Association’s current labor agreement expires in one week; ending the absurd practice of having taxpayers pay the employee’s share of pension benefits would save the City approximately $200,000 a year.

The below depicts a breakdown of the benefits cost for three Sierra Madre police officers:

Job Title Employee’s Pension Share  Employer’s Pension Share  Health
Sergeant $4,177 $33,887 $13,994
Sergeant $4,112 $33,368 $16,401
Sergeant $4,112 $33,368 $15,429

(Mod: Those numbers are based on the figures found in the "total benefits" column below, which is the next to last one located on the right. )


As you can see, the employee’s share of pension benefits is much less than the employer’s (taxpayer) share. However, Sierra Madre police officers, along with most other City employees, are not even required to pay that amount, as current labor agreements require that taxpayers pick up the employee’s share too!

You read that right, many city employees can receive extremely generous pensions at literally no cost.

But wait, it gets better (for city employees, taxpayers not so much.) On page 5, section 3 of the current MOU (link) states that: "The City will include the EPMC (employer paying employee’s share) as part of the “salary subject to PERS.”

This means that not only do Sierra Madre employees have to contribute nothing towards their pension, but when it comes time to calculate their pension they get to include that amount that they should be paying – but taxpayers are paying instead – as part of their pensionable compensation.

So in the example above, the first sergeant made $107k in pensionable pay.

If he decided to retire now and had worked 30 years, his pension would be 30 * 3% * 107k = $96.3k.

But his pension is not just based on his actual highest pay, he gets to include “his” share of his pension payments, which has been paid by taxpayers instead. So his pension would be  30 * 3% * 111.1k = $100k.

It’s the best of both worlds – he gets his pension for free and the salary his future pension will be based off of appears to be lower than it actually is, while working.

While the Pension Reform Act of 2012 correctly banned this practice for new hires beginning in 2013, existing employees remained untouched. Nonetheless, the City of Sierra Madre can end this practice for all employees when it comes time to sign a new MOU. Since the current one ends on June 30, now is the time to do just that.

The total cost of this practice for all city employees was $182,845 in 2013 – a number which was mathematically guaranteed to rise in 2014 and 2015, despite the final numbers having not yet been released.

Mod: Dropping approximately $200k in unnecessary pension costs to the taxpayer would save the equivalent of a full 1 percentage point of the UUT all by itself, each and every year. But does City Hall want to make that effort, or would they prefer instead that you conveniently vote yourself a big utility tax increase? In the process having you continue to pay all city employee pension costs (including the part employees should pay be paying for themselves), because it would be less confrontational and therefore easier for them?

Will a Sierra Madre resident be considered for this job?


Or will current City of Sierra Madre hiring practices hold and jobs like this remain closed to residents?

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

62 comments:

  1. As Community Services Mgr, will I receive the same great pension benefits as the police? if so, I' m submitting my application today.

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    Replies
    1. A 6 figure pension for renting Memorial Park picnic tables for birthday parties would be sweet.

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    2. Don't forget the heavy responsibility of hosting Community Services Commission meetings.

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    3. Is that an overtime situation?

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    4. of course it is... the 40 hours was already spent planning for the Mt. Wilson trail race.

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    5. Speaking of ways to save money, when is the City going to roll in the Senior Commission into Community Services?

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    6. Go ahead 5:10, as long as you are Hispanic. Pretty clear that Aguilar has a particular kind of hiring policy.

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    7. Well, I guess now I can claim to be a member of any ethnic group I want. I can also change my gender to suit the situation. anything for the money.

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    8. You have to. When it comes to hiring the City of Sierra Madre discriminates against people from Sierra Madre.

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    9. 6:39 am, you mean the 669 hours spent planning the Mt Wilson Trail Race?

      this alone tells me this entire system of our local government needs to be gutted and restructured

      it's appalling to have such incompetence thrown in our face and then have our city employees (who work for us) pout like a bunch of babies and throw temper tantrums to get their way

      and this includes our PD, a big bunch of overpaid underqualified cry babies

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  2. Was there any discussion about water, fines, conservation targets?

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  3. The problem here is (and you've provided a pretty clear explanation I think) the folks you'd maybe expect to read this and consider taking corrective actions are the very people benefitting from this operation... so my expectation is very low that things will change easily. Common sense says this type of absurdity should have never been put in place but alas, it's here and sucking funds away from "the public" and into those City employees.

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  4. Last night the City Mngr said the City Council vote to put the UUT back on the ballot would have to be unanimous. We need a hero.

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    Replies
    1. In 2011 the vote to put a 12% UUT on the ballot was 3-1 with Mary Ann MacGillivray voting NO.

      In 2013 the vote to put a 10% UUT on the ballot was 4-1 with Chris Koerber dissenting.

      The City Mgr knows if the vote is not unanimous UUT 3 will fail again.

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    2. How about the City Council keep the promise of 2008, that the UUT will sunset in 2016 to 6%.

      July 1 we can celebrate the first UUT cut in City history- from 10% to 8% as promised in 2008.

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    3. But the library will close. Gene Goss said so and he's a college instructor so he must be smart.

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    4. Tax Cut Day! The start of the 4th of July celebration. Proof that the vote is what really counts.

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    5. One day after MOU Day. Which is when our enslavement to the SMPOA ends.

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    6. There are no coincidences.

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    7. I'm voting NO again for the 3rd time

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  5. The problem with the budget saving idea being presented here is this would be a meaningful cut tgat would help the city live within that 6% UUT voted for twice by Sierra Madre residents. That is not what Goss, Harabedian and the rest of the sell outs is looking for. They just want to scare the residents over the library so they can jack the utility taxes up to 12%. That way they can load up pensions to 6 figures for their political allies in the city's employee unions. Are they corrupt? Yes. They also are treating us like buffoons. Someting I find equally offensive.

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    Replies
    1. I could care less if the library closed - it's a nice perk but it's paying it's two top employees over 200k a year and it's a tiny little branch that would be a blip in the the Pasadena system, where it belongs

      Goss and Harabedian are starting to become laughing stocks but they actually believe they are smarter than us

      Harabedian cheated to win his election and Goss just kept running until he got elected

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  6. I am done feeding the Beast! When the residents vote to Repeal All UUT taxes in year 2016, city hall and city employees will be forced to reduce spending! And Elaine and Bruce will be without a job!

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  7. Who negotiated that deal with the SMPD in the first place? Was it Enid Joffe? Whoever, had a deep seated hatred for the town and wanted to destroy it.

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    Replies
    1. Peace in Our Time

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    2. Enid was wrong about that, too. Surrender doesn't bring peace.

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    3. Better to negotiate with very little money available to shower on the public employee unions. That simplifies negotiations.

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    4. Why did the city hide this $200,000?

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    5. Because they want you to pay more.

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    6. They want to enrich the city's unionized employees at your expense. $100,000 a year pensions for SMPD retirees in a town of 11,000 people is insane. No wonder they want to charge the highest utility taxes in the state.

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    7. This is all part of John Buchanan's "Full Service City" balony. The only thing full are the city employee's pension funds.

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    8. Buchanan is full of himself. A lot of the problems being dealt with now began when he was on the council.

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    9. Don't forget that while we are paying $100,000.00 annually to a retired police officer, we, the tax payer, are also paying the salary and benefits to that police officer's replacement. so, we get to pay TWICE for one position. Just say NO!

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    10. Why else would a small town have to pay the highest utility taxes in California?

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    11. We Pay The Highest Utility Taxes BecauseJune 24, 2015 at 12:39 PM

      Because if we vote down the UUT increases two times (2012 & 2014) the library will close. And 911 won't get answered, and a bunch of cops will get laid off.

      Lies courtesy of John Harabedian and Gene Goss, among others.

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    12. Not telling the truth is what doomed the 2012 and 2014 utility tax ballot initiatives. Sad to see that the city still has not learned its lesson.

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    13. That's good. Lying will definitely cause UUT 3 to go down in flames.

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    14. The original push for the UUT was embedded in a pack of lies and deceitful actions and it still is based in falsehoods.

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    15. "Everybody says they want a tax increase. Everybody says they made a mistake."

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  8. Isn't it interesting. The City and the City Council didn't get any "budget restraint religion" until the UUT went down in flames in 2012.

    Vote "yes" on a tax and they'll sure as hell keep spending it.

    More Platinum Pensions, please!!

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  9. Why has the city been protecting this pension giveaway? Why are we paying what should be city employee contributions? Is that the sharpened pencil Elaine told us she got out?

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    Replies
    1. duh...the very same who created it, approved it and protect it are those that benefit from it

      nothing will change until we get a city manager who isn't trying to make a career or build a pension but a city manager who is at the twilight of his or her career

      it's like putting John Dillinger as head of bank security

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  10. Just curious, does anyone know what the qualifications and education was for Ms. City Managers job. Who many job applications did ? look at before hiring? When you don't feel like things have been run right in the city it makes you wonder what the educational level was of the person directing the city. From her performance so far I would guess she has at least a BS degree. Does anyone know?

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    Replies
    1. She was an agenda hire. Brought in to help work around the residents and take care of special interests. Like she is doing now with pensions, salaries and MOUs.

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    2. I heard that she was the best of a very bad batch of applicants.

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    3. We would have been much better off with an incompetent. Elaine is smart enough to cause damage.

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    4. like hiring a Preservation Director who is actually anti preservation?

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    5. Yes. And don't kid yourself, Elaine doesn't really care what you think. Why should she? She's been here forever and no matter what she does nothing ever happens.

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  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. You keep trying to slip that one through. Kinda weird, dude.

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  12. Elaine is causing damage, she must have a great separation package. Bruce is just her fall guy puppet. You know how it goes, you need a fall guy, some one to blame it on.

    That's what a BS Degree gets us.

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    Replies
    1. Inman is not simply a fall guy. He is stunningly incompetent.

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  13. An amazing development has taken place. The General Plan for Sierra Madre may be finally done on July 14.

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    Replies
    1. How long did it take?

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    2. And Aguilar will try to take all the credit. Want to bet?

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    3. The damage done to this community by the endless delays of this document has been immense.

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  14. Elaine did not apply for the position. The first batch applicants did not make it past the paper interviews. Then acting manager, Don Hopper, retired from Monrovia, serving Sierra Madre in this capacity in between two City Managers searches, asked Elaine to apply to the job. She was an assistant something or other in Glendale.

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    Replies
    1. She came with heavy regional govt/RPO props. Especially SCAG.

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    2. Elaine needs to be FIRED Now!
      She is destroying our Village!
      Wake up City Council!

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    3. lucky us

      be nice when she is gone but we'll be paying her for years to come

      sucks to pay for such incompetence and someone who panders to developers and the real estate crowd instead of the regular resident

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