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Old 06-08-2012, 02:10 PM   #21
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Any idea of the median salary for public employees in those two towns?

I know here in NH in my field of IT the NH state jobs are woefully under paid. I always considered the pensions as deferred pay. So if the state is paying $50K and you end up with a $25K pension it's sort of like making $75K a year while working.

Without the decent pension the jobs just don't pay well at all. Wonder if it is like that in CA?
What I've noticed is that government work doesn't pay any better for someone with technical skills in demand by the private sector than for a liberal arts graduate. That's why in many areas there are shortages of secondary science and math teachers but all the art, English, elementary ed., etc. you could want. The Feds have no problems finding bureaucrats to manage the Dept of Energy but they are chronically short of people with the technical ability to inspect/review actual operations.
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:34 PM   #22
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I believe the problem is when city employees have better benefits than city residents......
And how do we figure that out? Whom do we compare the public employees to? The people from Mega-Corp who get fat severence checks, medical care reimbursement, full early retirement, etc? Or the guy working a low wage job who gets nothing but a kick in the rear when he leaves? Or my friend who earns six figures a year and stands to make $250,000 when the company she works for goes public? Or, another friend who saw his defined benefit pension, reworked into a 401K that will pay a fraction of what he though he would get?

One has to compare the total compensation package (not just the pension) for the skills and talent needed. That, I think, would be a huge effort.

If accurate comparisons were easy, everybody would be doing them. Maybe we should settle for making sure that pensions are fully funded each year using reasonable assumptions about growth and income. That alone would make everybody be more careful and honest.

Just my thougts on the matter. Those and $3 will buy you a latte.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:30 PM   #23
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And how do we figure that out? Whom do we compare the public employees to? The people from Mega-Corp who get fat severence checks, medical care reimbursement, full early retirement, etc? Or the guy working a low wage job who gets nothing but a kick in the rear when he leaves? Or my friend who earns six figures a year and stands to make $250,000 when the company she works for goes public? Or, another friend who saw his defined benefit pension, reworked into a 401K that will pay a fraction of what he though he would get?

One has to compare the total compensation package (not just the pension) for the skills and talent needed. That, I think, would be a huge effort.

If accurate comparisons were easy, everybody would be doing them. Maybe we should settle for making sure that pensions are fully funded each year using reasonable assumptions about growth and income. That alone would make everybody be more careful and honest.

Just my thougts on the matter. Those and $3 will buy you a latte.
Not to get to political here.... but we can also not have a DB plan and just have a 403... with matching contributions.... or just contributions from the gvmt entity... that would eliminate most of the complaints that people have with these pensions... you do not have a potential liability bomb...

Just add the same comment about the latte.... but I do not drink coffee, so I will get a DP...
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Old 06-08-2012, 11:36 PM   #24
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And how do we figure that out? ....

One has to compare the total compensation package (not just the pension) for the skills and talent needed. That, I think, would be a huge effort.

If accurate comparisons were easy, everybody would be doing them.
'We' can't, and shouldn't. There is this thing called the 'free market' that works pretty well at setting values. It does play into your second part:

Quote:
Maybe we should settle for making sure that pensions are fully funded each year using reasonable assumptions about growth and income. That alone would make everybody be more careful and honest.
Better yet, just fund a 401K-like instrument - no future promises/assumptions whatsoever. That would put everyone on more equal footing when comparing job opportunities, and the true value of that job would become apparent through the laws of supply and demand.

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Old 06-09-2012, 10:05 AM   #25
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A couple other considerations. In San Jose, something like 70-80% of the Firemen/Police retire with a "disability". This allows them to pay no state taxes for life. Guess who reviews their disability request ... a board of other Firemen/Police. There was an article in the Mercury News a couple weeks ago that tracked several disabled retirees. One was collecting a tax free pension from one police department and working for another. A second gentlemen collecting a disabled pension was running his own SCUBA dive school.
Last year in the Mercury Newspaper, they found that 11 of the 15 highest paid public employees were in the Fire Dept. Each of these folks were making in excess of $180K/yr. Granted, these are Captains who supervise 10-15 firemen. I would equate that level of responsibility to a Staff Sgt in the Army who pulls down about $39K/yr (with 10yrs of active duty). Plus room & board.
I'm not against fair pay/pension, just some financially responsible oversight.
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Old 06-09-2012, 10:19 AM   #26
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Just add the same comment about the latte.... but I do not drink coffee, so I will get a DP...
I added the comment about the latte so show the value of my own thoughts to most other people - Zero. Also, because I have found that two people who seem to disagree on a site such as this, often find they have a lot more in common when they sit down over a friendly cup of coffee. I think we are all pulling together, overall.
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Old 06-09-2012, 10:26 AM   #27
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Better yet, just fund a 401K-like instrument - no future promises/assumptions whatsoever. That would put everyone on more equal footing when comparing job opportunities, and the true value of that job would become apparent through the laws of supply and demand.

-ERD50
Good Point. If people KNOW what to expect and can COUNT on it (both the risks and the rewards), they can plan accordingly. And, it would limit the shenanigans that happened to some private pension plans in the past few decades.
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Old 06-13-2012, 06:12 PM   #28
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I live in San Diego.

I thought it was interesting that no discussion was made about the cost of converting employees from a pension system to a 401k and SS system. The current system saves the city money because it does not pay the employer side of SS.

From a local news article
Pension reform scores big with voters | UTSanDiego.com
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Proposition B, also known as the “Comprehensive Pension Reform” initiative, was crafted by Sanders, DeMaio, Faulconer, the pro-business Lincoln Club and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. It eliminates pensions in favor of 401(k)s for all new hires except police officers and proposes a five-year freeze to the portion of current workers’ salaries that is used to calculate future pensions.
The city’s independent budget analyst estimated the initiative would save taxpayers about $950 million over 30 years if the freeze is enacted. If not, the measure increases the city’s costs by $13.5 million over the same period.
So the savings are based on a salary freeze. Not from the pension reform itself... the pension reform (elimination for new workers) actually increases the cost because new hires will now be part of SS - and the city has to pony up the employer contributions for that.

This was not in any of the ads, robo-calls, mailers. The labor unions/pro-pension folks really blew it when they didn't highlight that.

The fixes for spiking are LONG overdue. And pension reform is long overdue. This is a city that had the city attorney suing the pension board and the pension board countersuing the city attorney... with the city on the hook for all the legal fees.
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Old 06-13-2012, 06:35 PM   #29
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Doesn't seem unreasonable that it will cost slightly more now ($13.5M a year) but saves how much when those same people reach retirement

That is the more important consideration.
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:13 PM   #30
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I live in San Diego.

I thought it was interesting that no discussion was made about the cost of converting employees from a pension system to a 401k and SS system. The current system saves the city money because it does not pay the employer side of SS.
In any event, I think people want a "pay as you go" approach instead of the potential ticking timebomb of uncertainty regarding future pension liabilities. If you know what you owe every year, you can budget it and not get hit with a VERY unpleasant surprise years or decades down the road.
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Old 06-15-2012, 07:38 AM   #31
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The Bond Buyer online has a nice summary of the two ballot measures, here San Diego and San Jose Voters Approve Sweeping Public Sector Pension Reforms - The Bond Buyer Article
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Quote:
San Diego’s reform measure appears more radical since it would switch new employees to a 401(k)-style plan — a defined contribution plan compared to the current defined benefit plan. For current employees, the parts of their salaries that are tied to pension contribution rates will be frozen for five years.

However, police officers will remain in the old plan with an 80% salary cap that will be calculated using the three consecutive highest years rather than just the three highest years. This change is meant to help prevent pension “spiking.”
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San Jose’s Measure B seems to take a tougher stand on current employees. To stay in their existing plan, they would have to contribute significantly more. New hires would pay 50% of pension costs, compared to roughly one-quarter paid by current employees.

The measure also raised the age of retirement for new hires in the city’s defined benefit plan to 60 for public safety employees and 65 for all others. In addition, it caps the actuarial rate at 2% of a worker’s salary annually, with a 65% maximum benefit. Benefits would also be based on the highest average salary over a three-year period.

Current workers in San Jose have the first choice of contributing 4% more of their salary to help pay off the pension plan’s unfunded liabilities starting in June 2013. Those contributions could jump another 4% per year until they cover half of the unfunded liability cost or reach a cap of 16%.

Employees who don’t want to face those higher contributions could opt out of the existing pension. They would keep the benefits earned to date, but going forward would switch to a new plan with benefits that grow at a lower rate and higher retirement ages. As with new employees, benefits would also be based on the highest average salary over a three-year period, rather than the highest single year.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:03 PM   #32
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Last year in the Mercury Newspaper, they found that 11 of the 15 highest paid public employees were in the Fire Dept. Each of these folks were making in excess of $180K/yr. Granted, these are Captains who supervise 10-15 firemen. I would equate that level of responsibility to a Staff Sgt in the Army who pulls down about $39K/yr (with 10yrs of active duty). Plus room & board.
I'm not against fair pay/pension, just some financially responsible oversight.
You can see 2011 salaries for all san jose employees here:

Employees Salaries Lookup

base pay for police officers appears to be about 102k but they can make substantial amount of overtime.
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:55 PM   #33
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You can see 2011 salaries for all san jose employees here:

Employees Salaries Lookup

base pay for police officers appears to be about 102k but they can make substantial amount of overtime.

WOW!!!! It is amazing to me how many people are making big bucks... most all the high paid people are police and fire...

I know I will get in trouble with some of the ex police here, but this seems like a lot for a sergeant... total compensation approaching $190K....

Angel, Steven Police Sergeant$189,545.41$118,778.42$55,610.37$0$15,156. 62$0.00$14,284.68$70,116.67

And this guy is not even the worse....

Edit to add... the $14K for insurance and the $70K for retirement is NOT included in the $190!!! This makes it even worse...
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:34 AM   #34
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Traditionally, people in public safety often get better deals on pay and benefits. In my home state (which is NOT California) the law enforcement retirement system is certainly nicer than that for teachers and run-of-the-mill state employees. For example, they can retire early at 50 rather than at 55. Another example, they get 100% retirement at 53 versus 65 for folks like me. My understanding is that prison guards have a mandatory retirement after 20 years - could be wrong about this.

Do they deserve it? Well, it is unlikely I will be killed by a student who gets a bad grade. But, a policeman or fireman does put his/her life on the line more frequently than I do. What is that worth to the public? That is a discussion we need to have.
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:52 AM   #35
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Traditionally, people in public safety often get better deals on pay and benefits. In my home state the law enforcement retirement system is certainly nicer than that for teachers and run-of-the-mill state employees. For example, they can retire early at 50 rather than at 55. Another example, they get 100% retirement at 53 versus 65 for folks like me. My understanding is that prison guards have a mandatory retirement after 20 years.

Do they deserve it? Well, it is unlikely I will be killed by a student who gets a bad grade. But, a policeman or fireman does put his/her life on the line more frequently than I do. What is that worth to the public? That is a discussion we need to have.

I do not disagree with the statement you made... but I do think that a sergeant is not worth a total personel cost of $274K....


I also looked at a number of other jobs.... there were clerks that were making about $50K salary... plus $14K insurance and $20K pension... I do not think a clerk is worth over $80K either... so I am not just going after the police officer... it seems that the salaries of San Jose are just high...

If this is all over California, including the state gvmt, I can see how they are out of money....
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:09 AM   #36
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Do they deserve it? Well, it is unlikely I will be killed by a student who gets a bad grade. But, a policeman or fireman does put his/her life on the line more frequently than I do. What is that worth to the public? That is a discussion we need to have.
This has been discussed before, and according to govt stats (BLS), there are a number of lower-paid, private sector jobs, that generally don't have such generous pensions, that are far more dangerous on an annual basis than fire/police.

The 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in America
Quote:
fatal work injury rate (per 100,000 workers).

Fishermen (116.0)

Logging workers (91.9)

Airplane pilots and flight engineers (70.6)

Farmers and ranchers (41.4)

Mining machine operators (38.7)

Roofers (32.4)

Sanitation workers (29.8)

Truck drivers and delivery workers (21.8)

Industrial machine workers (20.3)

Police officers (18.0)
Firefighters don't even make the top ten ( ~ # 15 IIRC from other lists). And the fatal accident rate is over 6X for fishermen versus police.

Couple that with a shorter lifetime exposure from an early retirement, and it makes the numbers even lower, career-wise. IIRC, I calculated that my 10 years working on a family farm put me at a higher lifetime risk than a fireman retiring at 50 YO - yet my pension for that will be zero. It doesn't really make a good argument, IMO.

So maybe you should throw a $20 into a pension fund for fisherman, pizza delivery, lathe operator every time you buy some product they supply? Seems they need it more than these relatively highly paid police/fire. I've seen other lists (or you can go direct to BLS) with the average salaries, and many of those top categories are pretty low.

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Old 07-12-2012, 10:05 AM   #37
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Thanks to everyone for the enlightening discussion.

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