Two Weeks Out and Still the Questions…

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Many people are asking for the numbers. They ask this question based on what councilwoman Horvath said the night that the council voted to let the Headlee Override go to the ballot. She said that she wanted to see where every penny was going to go in the general spending portion of the planed use of the Headlee money. Many people listened to what councilwoman Horvath asked for and are still waiting to see those numbers.

In my humble opinion those numbers are never going to come to us before the election.  There is no way the Mayor can say where he is going to spend those monies. Now if you would like to listen to councilwoman Agius as she waves the papers around. The city will be spending 67% on salaries does that include the police and fire? Each of these departments will already be getting a portion of the Headlee Override. This is a legitimate question salaries include all salaries in the city as councilwoman Agius has said. Those employees are performing a service for the city and if we do not pay them we do not have anyone to perform the services. She has said this at the town hall meeting, a council meeting and at the Democratic club meeting. That is why I am asking the question.

Just to make the question clear does the 67% in the general spending for salaries include Police and Fire?

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21 thoughts on “Two Weeks Out and Still the Questions…”

  1. Vegas Lady,
    Act 345 pays for their pension when they retire. Police and fire also have money taken out of each paycheck that they receive when they retire or enter the DROP. This is separate from their pension. To me, it seems like a savings account. This “annuity” as it is called is paid in a lump sum. This is 100% of their money. I hope this helps a little. I’m not an expert on Act 345, but I know a little.

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  2. Here is something I found relating to Act 345 and Travers City, again this is for Travers City, but is similar to what is happening to the city of Dearborn Heights.

    History of police and fire pensions

    A little explanation is needed. 40 years ago, against the advice of the city manager at that time, the city commission placed Act 345 on the ballot, and the residents voted it in. Act 345 sets up a special account for police and fire pensions that is outside of the general fund. These pensions are “defined benefit” pensions, meaning the retirees receiving them get a guaranteed amount of benefits from the city – as opposed to the “defined contribution” model where the employee gets a set amount of contribution towards his or her retirement fund. Most people are familiar with defined contribution retirement benefits as the rule in the private sector.
    .
    Because Act 345 uncoupled the funding of police and fire pensions from the general fund, the cost city taxpayers pay to fund these pensions changes each year independently of any action by the city commission through the budget process. Instead, the amount city taxpayers must put into the fund each year is determined by an actuarial study. The actuarial study looks at the size of the city’s fund, the assumed rate of return on the city’s investments, and the amount of benefits that likely will have to be paid out to support the city’s future obligations to police and fire retirees.
    Read the rest at the link. http://planfortc.com/2010/06/06/police-fire-pensions-june-7/

    Negotiations are done by the administration council has nothing to do with them. When a new contract is finalized the administration brings it before the council to approve it. The council did not approve this last Police contract and it went to arbitration. The council was not represented in arbitration they did give a list of items, but they do not know if this was even brought up. Council did look into several measure that they as counsel could take one was to hire their own counsel to represent them. After looking into this option they found that it would cost the tax payer to much money. At one time there was a council member trying to get a copy of the transcript to see what happened during arbitration. I bring this up because city council members were that concerned with the result of the contract negotiations, and what went into the Police contract. Everything starts with what they are allowed to roll into their pensions.

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  3. Kerry
    Public act 345 is a pension for police and fire. The taxpayer pays millions into act 345. Help me out here. If they pay for their own retirement where is the millions we pay going? Will someone please educate me on act 345?
    Thank you

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  4. Vegas Lady,

    The police and fire have a percentage of their bi-weekly wages deducted from their pay. These are their pension contributions. This would be what they receive when they enter the DROP or retire. This is NOT taxpayer money. It is their own.

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  5. Who do you like
    How will postponing a vote until February cause a cash crisis????? The city will not receive any cash until August 2012 when the new tax bills are due. I am sure the treasurer will tell you that is a fact.

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  6. Private you keep referring to their contributions.. If it is truly their contributions why is the taxpayer paying in a separate tax almost 7 mil to public act 345 this year . I don’t know if they contribute anything to their retirement but the taxpayer sure does.

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  7. Vegas. What is fishy? I think DH is past the point of solving the problem by submitting a plan. If officials could just solve the problem by writing one, I doubt we would be discussing an HO override at all. We are not talking about a tiny budget hole that can be erased by cutting hours at the rec center or having fewer police cars. There is a gaping chasm in the budget, a chasm that would be there no matter what policy changes were made. A chasm that exists all across the state to varying degrees. Postponing it until February only makes that cash crisis worse. I doubt the treasurer would tell you any differently.

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  8. Recall. You don’t have to take the mayor’s word for it. Do you think everyone else was inventing a crisis as well? The state treasurer’s people said what they said and more than the mayor heard it. Either you feel the state is exaggerating or the crisis is real. Thats it. There is no illuminati conspiracy at foot here.

    You don’t like the mayor. Fine. But the budget hole persists no matter who is running the show. Whomever or whatever is responsible is debateable. The real estate bubble and a flawed tax structure is where I place most of it, but there is blame to go around some of it possibly decades old.

    Separate the issues. Your elected officials and the HO are different considerations at this point. The budget hole is just too big to ignore.

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  9. Rose,

    When you post or speak you do not state all the facts when it comes to city government or taxes.
    All cities in Michigan are in trouble and I do not care who was mayor and running the city because they would still be asking for some type of millage. When the economy and city was doing well I remember when Ruth Canfield attempted to get a H.O. stating that the city was going into receivership leading me to believe that most of our problems started with her.
    As for the pension and ACT345 I have ask a lot of questions and did some research on the DROP and found that you are incorrect with the issue. The Drop is not costing taxpayers and most months it is actually earning the pension interest on will continue to earn interest on city employee pension as long as they collect. In the mid to late 1980’s the city hired a massive number of police officers and firefighters who are now eligible to retire. Upon retirement they have a choice to withdraw their pension contributions and take a reduced monthly benefit or leave their contributions invested in the pension and receive a higher monthly benefit. I was informed that most if not all employee’s past and present have withdrawn there contribution for a reduce monthly benefit and due to the massive number of employee’s that retired within the past couple of years this is where the problem came from and it was not created by the Drop.

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  10. Something is way fishy…hurry up and pass this..sounds like a replay of the meeting to pass the budget, that’s what councilwoman Horvath said when she returned & passed her no vote to a yes, what would have changed in 10 days that we don’t know now she said, well we could have demanded better explanation of the numbers..we could have reviewed it and decided if it could have have have been a real solution. I don’t trust our mayor when he says now or never….what’s wrong with waiting till Feb…well im wondering if we wait till Feb if we couldn’t have the mayor voted out at that time?? To me something smells bad about anyone saying if it don’t happen now…seems like our mayor and his blowing smoke around to get it over…recall

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  11. All I know is at the state of the city meeting our city was just fine, all is well in Dearborn Heights. Oopps, I forgot to tell you we won’t have enough money at the end of the year or even the next 5 years. Can you guess whom I am writing about? I remember Janet Badalow voting no on the budget, she also drilled the mayor about it and he said she did not understand how the budget works. When John Reilly spoke about the budget the mayor told him that John made a 1 million dollar mistake and did not add some money that the city had in some insurance deal. Well I think the mistake is the mayors fault and knows we know that we know he screed up. We will be paying for this for along time after he is gone. I am sure when he leaves he wont even live in Dearborn Heights. As far as Rose Bogart goes she always comes prepared when she is speaking, she knows what she is doing. Like it or not, that’s my take on how this city got screwed up.

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  12. Nothing in your original post suggests that you have favored tax increases. Perhaps you have but it would not appear that way. Especially when you state you are sick to death of everyone reaching into your pockets. I can understand a certain level of skepticism with government, however that seems a bit much and casts a pretty wide net. Your follow up statement indicates a certain willingness to support certain things if you feel they are honest, follow the rules and are necessary. Is that really it? If more information came out that proved we were in trouble would you shift your vote?

    You also seem to feel that the powers that be are doing a bad job and that is the only reason we are in the situation we are in. I will not argue degrees of imperfection. I will not debate cup is half full or half empty when evaluating people. Mistakes were made. Some recently, some decades ago which have contributed to the situation we are in. Some things have been voted in which were debatable, some are a matter of policy. There has also been some responsible action as well undertaken by our local municipality. Some deep cuts. Which trumps the other? Who knows. But that is not what is at issue. If you do not like the present field, vote differently. If you don’t like a policy speak against it. Apparently you have. But do not cloud the issue.

    None of this changes the facts. Our municipality is in a crisis. We are not the only one, far from it. This would indicate to me that at least part of our problem is a regional issue. Did almost every government in the Southeast Michigan area make mistakes? Are none of their issues real? No matter which way you spin it, the income from state shared revenue, tax revenue, interest revenue, ticket revenue and service revenue has taken a drastic nosedive here and many other places as well. Healthcare, utility and fuel costs have skyrocketed. Could it have been addressed differently? Sure. But that does not change the facts. There is not enough to support city services as things stand, end of story.

    And that to me is not debatable. The numbers are what they are. No amount of spin changes that. Do you really feel that the city is not in a crisis? Do you think cuts will not be made if the millage does not pass? Do you feel the state will not come in if the problem fails to be corrected? Is it all a joke? Is everyone in city government making it all up? Even people who refused to agree on anything but three months ago are together on this.

    To those who indicated they want to wait till February…what will that change? Will the magic piece of the puzzle be revealed in the additional three months? Will the missing 50 million dollars be found under a rock? If you don’t vote for it now, what would three months change? Will additional research change the bottom line? No it won’t. Would there be anything that would make you want to switch your vote in an additional three months? I doubt it. The bottom line is what it is, either you want the services paid for or you don’t.

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  13. Who ever you are, I have supported tax increases. It is not the model of government I have a problem accepting. What I want from government is for them to obey the law and not try to get around it. I would like my elected officials to make common sense decision which reflect the public interest and not their next election. I would also like them to make decisions in a condition of transparency.

    I am sick of them not doing their homework before making decisions and spending our money. If they don’t have that inclination, I would wish them not to run or to quit. I would like them to quit voting for things they do not understand.

    For every one of those issues I referenced in other posts, I attended meetings or study sessions and gave my objections and reasons to change the manner in which they intended to move forward not the ideas themselves. You would not find it so easy not to complain about me, if you spent as much time as I do doing research and trying to share it with you.

    You don’t have to take my word. Please do your own research. You obviously are content taking the word of all these good shepherds who are leading their sheep over the cliff. If they are doing such a good job, why are we in the situation we are in.

    Their next statement is that it is out of their control. Is it? They work harder and cooperate at concocting these things then at solving the original problem.. People and governments make mistakes but the consistency implies there is more than meets the eye.

    I’m sure you do find it easy to complain. I come up with solutions but my suggestions are made before the money is spent and the decision is made. You, I believe are part of the problem.

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  14. Seeing as the money is not available until next August I don’t see why Lansing would say now or never. February would work just as well as November. All they have to provide to the State is a plan. Which they obviously don’t have. Something is fishy.

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  15. Linda

    The Mayor said and Council chair Baron confirmed that was not an option given to them by the treasurers office in Lansing when they went there. I do believe that our treasurer was on that trip all so. So according to them it’s now or never.

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  16. Rose, when was the last time you supported an increase in taxes? What was the last government you were not sick of? Your post implies that at one point you felt government was a great noble thing and over time it changed. I am curious what the exemplary model of government is in your eyes. Is there a perfect ideal out there that city, county, state and federal governments should look up to? Or is your anti-government position founded in a philosophy that would never advocate, support or back anything government does? I find it very easy to complain. I find it much harder to come up with constructive solutions. Spouting rhetoric is not a solution.

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  17. WHAT ABOUT FEBRUARY?

    This week, they mentioned that there will be another City election in February and that if the HO doesn’t pass, they will put it on the ballot again.

    Since they haven’t coughed up the numbers, let’s kick it forward a couple of months (by voting NO) and give them a chance to come up with 3 things: (1) the numbers we are asking for, (2) a revised version that includes some kind of “sunset” provision, and (3) a Plan that details what will be cut both if the Ballot Proposal PASSES and DOES NOT PASS.

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  18. It is always about what they don’t tell you. Many people keep asking me why our millage will not expire like Dearborn’s. Funny they should ask. In Dearborn they are asking for a Charter millage increase for five years. How nice it will expire. What is left? A Headlee Override! In 5 years their millage will be at the maximum level of their charter limit as authorized and not rolled back as it is today.

    I am sick to death of all of them. City, county, state and federal government are all trying to get into our pockets. I do not feel guilty about saying NO! They certainly don’t have problems asking for more.

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