Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fayette County Commission Takes a Page from Fed's Playbook

We're all aware that the spending spree in Washington D.C. is going to cost our children and grandchildren. Choices being made by the Feds are obligating future generations for unknown amounts.

The Fayette County Commission will potentially be doing something somewhat similar, albeit on a smaller scale, tomorrow night. At the 7 p.m. Commission meeting on Thursday they are going to make a decision that could hit you and I, along with every future Fayette Countian, in the pocket book.

What could our little county be doing that could have such long term repercussions on taxes?

The Commission will probably pass a defined benefit plan tomorrow night for county employees.

Surprised? I bet you thought they wouldn't do something so costly to the taxpayers during these economic times, didn't you? I bet you thought it was a dead issue, too, didn't you?

Not so. It's on the agenda as old business. In case you've missed the history, the Commission actually approved the implementation of a DB plan in a 4-1 vote toward the end of 2007. Herb Frady, Eric Maxwell, Robert Horgan and Jack Smith voted to implement the plan, Peter Pfeifer voted no. Since the vote, the Commission has simply been fiddling around talking to providers, trying to get the best deal, possibly waiting until they thought they could slide it through quietly.

If you go to the meeting tomorrow night, you're going to hear blarney that'll make you think you're listening to the best o' the best. Fayette County is going to need to find a leprechaun's pot o' gold at the end of a rainbow to cover the tab when the bills start coming due, too.

The Commissioners are going to tell you that it isn't going to cost the taxpayers. Their magnificent plan is different than everyone else's plan.

The plan won't cost you --- now. However, across the country without any exceptions that numerous researchers have been able to find, the tax payer inevitably ends up with a huge bill that is impossible to cover. Sorry, no rainbows, no leprechauns, just a bill that requires either a cut back of services or higher taxes, and sometimes both.

DB plans have been huge contributors to the problems of companies like General Motors, Delta and others.

Another surprise to some? The group the Commission would be hiring to manage (benefit, reap the rewards from) the plan is going to be… GEBcorp. You remember don’t you? They're the ones the Commissioners had give them all the data that justified the implementation of the plan. They “volunteered” their services at no cost just to help out our great county. Wow. Such generosity! Yeah, right. Can you say “deals cut, hee hee hee, rub hands in glee at plans coming to fruition”???

If you go back through my blogs and the articles I’ve written over the past years, you’re going to find that I can now say “I told you so.”

What can you do to stop this? Well, I'd say you could fill the Commission Chambers tomorrow night and voice your opposition, but I have low expectations that you would change anyone's votes.

Herb Frady said he'd vote against it during the election (even though he voted for it, then said he didn't, but tapes proved he did). They don't need his vote. Could be it'll be a 3-2 vote for it depending on who's up for election or who thinks they need to be perceived to be on the side of taxpayers. But it appears it’s going to pass.

I won't go into details about why it's bad. I've gone over and over it in previous blogs. There have been letters written, videos made and plenty in the media.

Maybe it's time for a Fayette County Tea Party.

Previous blogs I've written on the Fayette County Commission's DB plans:
Defined Benefits Gets Temporary Government Bailout, Er, Legislation
Defined benefits are a hot topic in Fayette County, GA. Well, it's a hot topic for those responsible citizens who realize what the future holds for the county should our esteemed local commissioners vote to burden the county with it. For those of you who have been following the ongoing debate, I thought you'd be interested to know the Federal government, yep, the Federal government (that would be Congress) has just unanimously passed The Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act designed to provide temporary relief to retirees and employers sponsoring defined benefit pension plans. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation into law. This Act, among other things, addressed the unanticipated increases in pension funding requirements. Hello, Fayette County! Is anybody seeing the bailout trend? Is anyone listening?

More on Defined Benefits for Fayette County, GA
Last night the committee the County Commission selected to study implementing a Defined Benefits Retirement Plan for county employees asked for more time (Vote on Defined Benefit Plan Vendor Choice Postponed at County Commission Meeting). Since asking for bids in September the group has been reviewing the many, many plans submitted by various companies hoping to get the County's business. It's big business. It's a carrot with a short stick and a lot of companies are vying to be the ones to chomp down on that juicy veggie. (Hey, I'm the queen of bad metaphors... I'm sure before I finish I'll have you rolling your eyes to the heavens.)

Defined Benefits in Fayette County Georgia
The letter below is a letter to the editor received for inclusion in the Fayette Front Page. As many of you know, I think it's a travesty that the Fayette County Commission has chosen to implement a Defined Benefit retirement plan for their employees.Like everyone else who has ever implemented a similar plan, the Commission says it won't cost taxpayers... I have searched and searched trying to find a similar plan that IS working somewhere. All I find are horror tales. And not surprisingly, almost every government that implemented a DB plan said, when trying to sell it, that THEIR plan wouldn't come back to bite the taxpayers at some point. It was different than all the others. Guess who told 'em that? Those guys who are selling the plan of course!

Pension Problems
Across the country businesses are failing. In some cases the straw that broke, or is breaking, the proverbial camel's financial back is their defined benefit pension plan. Do a Google search and see how many references pop up regarding pension plans and company failures.

Tough Times
The Fayette County Commission has frozen somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 jobs this year. I just received a notice from Gwinnett that they've initiated a hiring freeze and expect to save roughly $45 million in a 12 month period. We know Atlanta is having problems, seemingly much of it due to their defined benefit program compounded by the current economic difficulties. The state is in trouble for the first time in quite some time. Not too long ago they had a surplus they were arguing about. Now they're in the hole.

Defined Benefits... Pension Woes...
Across the country governments are having major, major problems with their defined benefit pension plans. They are running from them like they are killer bees swarming. Not so in Fayette County. Our "leaders" voted to implement a plan. Yep, they are building hives to house the bees. The taxpayers are the ones who will someday feel the mighty stings.

If a tree falls in the forest…
The County Commission held a number of meetings where they discussed the switch to a defined benefit (db) retirement program for county employees. Unfortunately for taxpayers, they held every single discussion during their daytime Wednesday “workshop” meetings. No public comment is allowed during those meeting. And, it is impossible for 99.999% of the public to attend. They may as well have been standing in a forest with no one around.

Christmas for some, coal for the taxpayers...
Last night’s County Commission meeting was jam-packed with headline making happenings. Unfortunately (or fortunately….) I was off making money selling my pottery and had to miss the meeting. However, I do have audio from the meeting and have talked to a number of folks who were there, and I asked for and received copies of some of the statements made by concerned citizens.

The Tax Hike Cometh…
Oops, goofed, the tax hike has already cometh… However, if you think the County’s tax increase this year is something, wait until the County Commission votes to implement defined benefits for county employees! The County seems hell bent on doing what every other large business has been forced to dump if they planned to stay in business. Companies across the nation have found it impossible to fund the kind of retirement program the County wants to put in place. They’ve gone into bankruptcy; they’ve run to the government to help, they’ve closed their doors.

Wooten on Defined Benefit Plans, etc. - worth a read
State lawmakers must rid pension plans that bilk taxpayers
By Jim Wooten Monday, August 20, 2007, 09:23 PM
The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionThe system abused by former Fulton County Superior Court Clerk Juanita Hicks and her hand-picked successor is flawed on so many levels that, but for the self-interest of beneficiaries in elected office, it would have been fixed decades ago.

Seven Fayette County Commission Chairman have spoken out... It's time to wake-up!
Seven, yes SEVEN, former Fayette County Commission Chairman have now voiced their opposition to actions of the current Board of Commissioners. That is unprecedented in the history of this county, and perhaps in any county in Georgia or the United States. They have spoken out against the firing of County Attorney Bill McNally. They have spoken out regarding the current Board’s plan to move employees to a defined benefit plan.

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