Palm Beach Post Takes on Fire / Rescue Pay

Fire / Rescue compensation is an issue we have been following for quite a while. A year before TAB was formed, several of us were involved in the campaign against the special sales tax to fund Fire / Rescue, and excessive compensation was a key argument against giving them their own revenue source outside of BCC control. Earlier this year, we conducted a salary survey of county employees (See How Much is Enough?) and were quite amazed to see the real data – that Fire / Rescue far exceeds the county staff and even PBSO in pay and benefits.

Jennifer Sorentrue and Adam Playford take on this issue in the Palm Beach Post this week, with their own look at the county compensation data. See More than half of county’s fire-rescue employees earn more than $90,000

TAB is quoted in the article, which mentions that the county contract with the IAFF expires this year and is currently being negotiated. Join us as we attend the next meeting on July 19 as the union responds to the county’s proposal for a 22% cut in starting salary. See Next Fire/Rescue Contract Negotiation Scheduled

County Commission Should Follow Delray’s Lead (NOT)

NOTE: This post was based on projections as reported by the Sun Sentinel on 7/31. On 8/3, Delray Beach decided to (probably) raise taxes after all and set the millage rate to 7.41 – a 3% increase. TAB formally withdraws its kudos from Delray Beach and will look elsewhere for examples of responsible government. CLICK HERE for the story.

Our Board of County Commissioners and Administrator Weisman, with their sliver of a 1.5% budget cut should look to the South for an example of how responsible stewards of the public trust behave.

The Delray Beach City Commission, facing a $7M budget shortfall, has decided to cut spending rather than raising the millage rate. Now granted, their $98M budget is pocket change to the BCC, but the size of their revenue shortfall is similar on a percentage basis.

“It’s going to be a tough process,” Commissioner Fetzer said. “The simplest thing for the commission is to increase the tax rate, but I just don’t think that’s going to work anymore.

Seeking out ideas from employees and the financial review board, City Manager David Harden is being creative in seeking cuts. Here are some of the things they are pursuing:

  • Furloughs equivalent to a 4.6% salary reduction with no layoffs.
  • Cutting staff at fire stations
  • Eliminating the city’s contribution to the retirement trust.
  • using interest earned from construction bonds to pay the city’s debt service
  • Charging employees a $65 fee to participate in the take-home car program.

Where is the creativity at the county level???

For full details, see the story in the Sun Sentinel HERE

Issues in the Orange County Mayor Race

Editor’s Note:  Matthew Falconer is the author of the book:  “Building A Better Local Government, How To Lower Taxes and Improve services At The Same Time“.

Falconer for Mayor

The social issues dividing taxpayers are not applicable on a local level. In local politics it is not left versus right, it is taxpayer versus government. Most people in Florida believe our government has become self-serving and no longer represents the best interest of the taxpayer. They are correct. Government’s primary focus is on sustaining their jobs and providing for an insatiable appetite for revenue.
Why else would government increase taxes, utilities, tolls and parking fees in a recession when all of these result in higher business failure and higher unemployment? How else can you explain why the average government worker makes twice as much as the average taxpayer? How else can you justify the salary and pension for a single public servant of $22 million?

No, that is not a typo. Using the current City of Orlando formula for “high risk” employees, a public servant starting at $50,000 a year will end up at $286,643 annual salary at the end of 25 years given the current 7.5% annual pay raise. Sorry, Mr. Taxpayer, but it gets much worse.

The public servants are able to retire at 85% of the average salary of the last three years, or $224,667 per year. And it still gets worse. This annual pension payment is indexed for inflation so it increases 3% a year. After 40 years in retirement the annual pension is $746,860 a year. After 25 years of service and 40 years in retirement our high school educated civil servant has made $21,800,000.
And we’re not done. Our public servants get paid sick leave when they are not sick. They collect this bonus which can reach seven figures. Many get health benefits until they depart this earth. My question is; does anyone really believe our local economy can afford to pay one employee $22 million for 25 years of service? Where does this money come from? How many haircuts are needed or pizzas sold to pay for this one civil servant?

Folks, if you are not a member of a government labor union you are being taken to the cleaners. I respect the work done by our public servants, but it is time to put aside our social differences and unite as taxpayers to save our economy and standard of living. We need to level the salaries and benefits between the private and public sectors and convert to a defined contribution plan before the weight of government suffocates every small business. Our government uses an inverse pension ponzi scheme that will result in ever increasing taxes and fewer services over time. The sooner we accept this fact the less damage will be done.
Please visit my web site and learn more about the reforms I have in store for local government. I will stand up to government labor unions and reform local government so it once again serves the people. If we do not change the direction our local government is headed, our economy will crumble under the weight of taxes. I estimate the pension obligation alone will cost Orange County taxpayers $12 billion a year in six decades. 

Help me save the future of Florida.

Matthew Falconer 

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