Plan A

20May10

Plan A Retirement

To the Members of the Stratford Town Council
August 2008

Dear Council Members:

Pursuant to your request, the Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) has reviewed pension issues regarding the payment of “Plan A” police pensions in January 2008.

The assumption that a pension benefit is based on the individual/officers annual salary, averaged over last two years of employment, is misleading. Employees hired by the Town of Stratford prior to 1997 were provided a pension benefit that was based on a “total compensation” calculation and not “base salary”. The total compensation benefit calculation included overtime, unused vacation, holiday credit, and longevity pay among other earnings. Accumulated sick pay and private duty pay was excluded from the pension calculation. This is referred to as “Plan A”.

The Town recognized the future financial impact of a generous pension benefit to be extremely burdensome on the Stratford’s tax payers and unsustainable in the long-term. As a result, they negotiated a “Plan B” in 1997, where pensions are calculated and paid on base salary for newly hired employees. For the Town workers other than the police and fire departments the Town negotiated a defined benefit plan. Employees hired under “Plan A” were grandfather to that plan.

We have reviewed the effects of “Plan A” pensions from the point of view of public policy. This report is not intended to criticize any retiree for taking full advantage of the benefits negotiated by their representatives, but to provide an appraisal of the unintended consequences of the plan.

The Town Council has wisely raised the question of continued affordability and long-term sustainability as a result of the extraordinary pension benefits granted recent retirees. This affordability relates to current pensioners and those not yet retired who are covered under the “Plan A” benefits. The implications will impact the Town’s ability to fund the pension plan through tax rate increases, ability to issue bonds, and ultimately impact the ability of the Town to attract new businesses and new residents while retaining current residents and businesses. This may also have a long term negative impact on the Town’s ability to maintain its infrastructure and its services.

Based on the analysis and review of the limited data we have arrived at the following conclusions:

1. We were not able to ascertain wrong doing either in the manner these pensions were earned or in the calculation of the pension. However, there are certain items that must be formalized in the pension plan and the calculation procedures.

2. The Town will be well advised to address the root-causes of the overtime, its mandated staffing protocols and inflexibility in managing the assignment of overtime, or significant overtime and compensatory time will remain a way of life in the Town and greatly expand retirement benefits for those 47 active police officers, as well as active fire fighter and other Town employees still covered by “Plan A”.

3. The Accrued Pension Liability is understated due to the unrecognized impact of overtime and cash-out payments in the last 24 months of employment coupled with lower investment performance. Planned higher annual funding requirements will still not be enough to meet future obligations. A new actuarial evaluation must be immediately made reflecting the retirement load for Cash-Out Payments and Overtime and to reset the actuarial plan asset value to actual value. Failure to address these shortfalls in the actuary’s assumptions will only worsen in due course. Among other actions that require consideration is negotiating caps to pensions paid under “Plan A”.

4. We are further recommending that pension benefits under “Plan A” be brought in alignment with the pension benefits under “Plan B”.

The report will offer recommendations for each of these findings. Should the Stratford Town Council wish to discuss these findings and subsequent recommendations in greater detail, the FAC would be delighted to meet at your convenience.

Lastly, we would like to extend our appreciation to Mr. John Norko and Ms. Susan Collier of the Stratford Finance Department, Stratford Police Chief John Buturla, and Rebecca Sielman the consulting actuary of Milliman, Inc., and thank them for their full cooperation and prompt responses to our inquiries.

Respectfully,

Ed Rodriguez
Chairman, Financial Advisory Committee

FAC Report on Pensions

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48 Responses to “Plan A”

  1. 1 jezebel282

    From the report:

    There are 23 more years of catch up payments to be made based on the current earning and discount rates used in 2007. In fiscal 2007/2008 this catch up payment amounted to $4,751,048.

  2. 2 jezebel282

    I’m thinking that our previous councils (for the last 10 or so years) deliberately underfunded the pension plan to save a mil or two and look like “heroes”.

    I also find it amazing that with expert testimony from Norko, Collier and Buturla that absolutely no OT abuse occurred.
    http://www.stratfordpoliceunion.com/pdf/case1.pdf

  3. 3 sudds

    I find it amazing that this town is filled with amazing people who (more than willingly) donate their time to produce amazing reports like this…

    …and yet our town is still all sorts of f’ed up!!!

    I think that we SERIOUSLY need to “throw the bums out”!!! (D’s & R’s)

  4. 4 gforrester

    I’m thinking that our previous councils (for the last 10 or so years) deliberately underfunded the pension plan to save a mil or two and look like “heroes”.

    LET ME BE AS CLEAR AS POSSIBLE, THAT IS TOTALLY UNTRUE! If you look at the budget request from the Town Manager and the Mayor over the last 6 years that I was on the Town Council we funded every penny of what we were asked to. It is my understanding that the Pension Actuary is the entity that provided the amount to the Administration and that for the last 6 years the amount requested is what was funded. If anyone has evidence to the contrary please post it.

  5. 5 jezebel282

    Mr. Forrester,

    Then how does something like this happen?

    “the Accrued Liability increase from $208.9 million to $245.2 million and the Unfunded Accrued Liability increases from $72.8 million to $93.1 million over the next ten years.”

  6. 6 1george1

    To all bloggers.
    The actuary report is available for free in attachment form.
    It can be bought in hard copy.

    Sue Collier handed me a free hard copy immediately after I spoke
    at the Stratford HS Budget Public Hearing.

    Page 11:
    Total Town Contribution on July 1 (FY 09-10) was $ 7,233,412
    ACTUAL JANUARY Pension Shortfall Contribution was over $ 7,350,000
    in January 2010 (ACTUAL)

    CONTRIBUTING FACTORS:
    $ 2,830,281 – Normal Costs
    $ 1,862,259 – Expected employee contributions
    $ 0,968,024 – Net Normal Cost (1) – (2)
    $ 0,0,45,000 – Administrative expenses (to whom?)
    $ 6,220,388 – Past Service Costs
    $ 7,233,412 Total Town Contribution on July 1 (FY 09-10)

    $ 24,002,108 was covered payroll
    Town contribution as a percentage pf pay roll 30.1 %

    ===================================================

    Next year FY 2010 – 2011
    Total Town Contribution on July 1 (FY 09-10) was $ 8,526,398 **
    ACTUAL JANUARY Pension Shortfall Contribution PROJECT $ 8,700,000
    or about 2 MILS for PENSION SHORTFALL

    $ 24,238,011** projects as covered payroll
    Town contribution as a percentage pf pay roll 35.2 % **

    ======================================================
    SUMMARY of MEMBERSHIP pages 20 – 26

    JULY 1, 2009
    260 – NUMBER VESTED
    105 – NUMBER not yet VESTED
    —-
    365 – Total YET TO RETIRE in PLAN A

    330 – Retired
    168 – Disabled (1/2 ratio or retirees?)
    -90 – Beneficiaries
    ————– > Subtotal = 588 Pensions obligated for $ 17.4 million
    -36 – Terminsted Vested and Inactive

    989 – Total
    ========================================================

    I wonder why HARKINS / COLLIER were in no hurry to get info to
    the PUBLIC / PRESS / TOWN COUNCIL, prior to BUDGET WORKSHOPS
    and BUDGET HEARINGS?

    =======================================================

    Yo Jeze + Sudds – Every once in a while I stay to the point made.

    ===

    Now to deviate and improvise:
    Moved to: https://stratfordcharter.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/the-dark-side/#comment-12057

  7. 7 1george1

    Jeze,

    The INVESTMENTS’ RoI is largely a function of the general
    direction of the DJIA.
    Individual investments can underperform or over perform.

    Under 43 months from Jan 2006 to July 2009, the PENSION
    OBLIGATIONS increased by 42 % from over $ 12. million to
    over $ 17.4 million

    That entire 43 months were related to BUDGETS passed by
    TOWN COUNCILS which GAVIN FORRESTER was a member of
    the Town Council and Pension Boards.

    Conveniently Gavin points out the disingenuous truth about
    funding the PENSIONS.

    A – The obligations increased 42 % in 43 months and over 500 %
    since 1994. People got greedy. Managers / Mayor / Council /
    Finance / HR / Town Attorneys all allowed it = RIGHT GAVIN?

    B – The Stock Market dropped / stagnated from 2000 to 2009.

    C – The total number of people involved in the Defined Benefit
    Plan increased with people from BoE / others, who according
    to Police / Fire / PW Union officials, were not intended for the
    DBP.

    D – Golden Parachute of 3 free years, including to those who were
    not intended to be in DBP insured the plan would be UNDERFUNDED
    meaning the BURDON STAYED on the PUBLIC and NOT on the BOND
    which was the intended way for ROI to pay PENSIONS.
    > This is where the UNION people, although greedy, are not the
    experts on effects on the PENSION whereas Attorneys / Finance
    / HR / Labor Negotiators / Political Planners are experts and deserve
    the BLAME for INTENTIONAL DISTRUCTION of the SYSTEM & UNIONISM.

    == Above within the blog sting

    == Below deviates and improvises

    High CONCEPT along the lines of Marxist predictions & Sun Tsu strategy.
    Use the system against itself to destroy the system designed to protect
    the mutually reinforcing personnel

  8. 8 cstratct

    Gavin,

    I’m going to start this post by saying I’m not in any way trying to be antagonistic or sarcastic. This is a straightforward question. You say that as a member of the town council “we funded every penny of what we were asked to.” Isn’t one of the council’s primary fiduciary responsbilities to make sure the lines are adequately funded, not just rubber stamp the number the town council is given? It seems to me the council “restored” money to the BOE line last year, which means the council believed that line was not adequately funded. Shouldn’t the same thing be happening with respect to the pension plan? It would appear from past actions that the town council has the ability to adjust line items and approve a budget that adequately funds each line. What you appear to be saying above is that what you did is take the word of the Town Manager or Mayor for that particular line in the budget while making adjustments elsewhere in the budget.

    Again, not be be antagonistic or sarcastic, but it seems like you want to have it both ways. You want credit for “restoring” cuts to some lines, but suggesting you had no input into others.

  9. 9 1george1

    Chris,

    You hit the nail on the head,

    related to not just Gavin, but the inter related roles of
    Town Councilors, Mayors/Managers, Town Attorneys, HR,
    Finance, Labor Negotiators, Education, Department
    leaders/workers and the Town Committees, which perform l
    ike Tammany Hall:

    Jobs + Pay + Benefits + Pensions or contract wards / charge orders
    for Votes, Support, and Contributions

    To be fair to Stratford Town Committees who are narcisstically
    selfish, it is the way the country works.

    Many of us got our first jobs from family and friends.
    We support those who support us.
    Politicians are like knuckle draggers who do not care about
    enlightened self interest or public interest.

    It is about bribing their people and perpetuating power.
    To them the CONSTITUTION and unaffiliated and meaningless!

  10. 10 1george1

    I believe there was 1 TOWN COUNCIL that deliberately under funded the
    PENSIONS for the purpose of making sure the PENSIONS could balloon
    and the PENSION BOND would NOT be able to be used to pay both the
    PENSION OBLIGATIONS and REPAY the PENSION BOND INTEREST + PRINCIPAL.

    That was a TOWN COUNCIL or 2 or 3 prior to GAVIN’s first years.
    It was about 2002-2003.
    The 2002- 2003 – 2004 Years had situations I now deem CRIMINAL, by Burturla,
    Kelly, and the respective Manager, Town Councils, Charter Revision Commission,
    Education (O’Connor’s crew), Police, and Golden Parachutes.

    – However, at this point, I can not know to an absolute certainty who knew
    what and when did he / she know it?

    – People get manipulated.

    – Some people make mistakes, based on false information.

    ===================

    I do NOT believe most or many of the contracts and documents in
    Stratford Town Hall.

    Burturla still controlls hundred of open Town Attorney cases on his
    on PC.

  11. 11 1george1

    This year’s and last year’s actuary report both compliment and contradict
    parts of the FAC report.

    Bob Sammis and I were 2/3rd of the Subcommittee looking at the Jan 2008
    police pensions ( 2 fire also retured that month)

    Neither Bob nor myself could get specific information we wanted.
    So I learned what it was comparatively like to be an Arthur Anderson auditor
    of Enron books, was infomation came from Norko + John Burturla, who were
    Mirons’ people.

    I wound up wearing a tire.
    Sammis resigned and moved out of Stratford.

    The FAC has also done some good things. Very good.
    I have zero doubts about many members superior abilities.

  12. 12 jezebel282

    George,

    “The FAC has also done some good things. Very good.”

    The point of publishing the report here is that more information is better than less. If there is a reason, let’s find out why and then, together, solve it.

    Nothing about public finances should be private. The attitude has always been to keep bad news, or for the last four years all news, away from taxpayers and citizens.

    Nothing restores credibility and faith like sunshine.

  13. 13 1george1

    Nothing restores credibility and faith like sunshine.

    Sorry Jeze, but the above quote reminded me of another quote and a
    story touched up among the BLOG STRINGS (my irony humor):

    1) These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the
    sunshine patriot
    will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country;
    but hethat standsit now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
    > -Paine,Thomas > The Crisis, introduction,

    2) Oped Richard Blumenthal – By avoiding service in Vietnam, a generation learned to shirk responsibility while staying within the law.

    In fairness to non servers, I spent 6 years from age 12
    Moved to: https://stratfordcharter.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/the-dark-side/#comment-12076

  14. 14 phineast

    This commission was NOT ALLOWED by order of king James to look at the specifics of How the top paid retiree in the history of the town “earned” his money, because it is considered “investigatory in nature” and “beyond the scope of what they were charged to do.” I do believe that some of the volunteers on this commission were just as frustrated with it’s out come as the public is–because it appears choreographed by the administration that was in power at the time. The volunteers worked hard-and much of their work was not utilized. Such a shame.

    Chris- It is not the council’s job to write the budget-it is the administrations job to write and provide the data to back up the requests-they are PAID very well to do it. Council members on the other hand are volunteers that most have real jobs they have to do during the day and hence rely on the data given to them to be factual if they have to do all the work what the hell are we paying for people in the finance dept for…it’s their job.
    If the actuary report was that far off the number there is certainly something that can be done…you either fire them or can sue them for damages caused their grossly negligent error….decisions are based on information that is presumed to be correct…just imagine the field day in the court room if this were a medical case or a case or spilled hot coffee or an engineering error…the people in town need to do something to prevent these GROSS inaccuracies-enough is enough.

  15. 15 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “This commission was NOT ALLOWED by order of king James”

    You are correct.

    Citizens and taxpayers have been treated like mushrooms* for years and years. After all the bonding, tax increases and revaluations we still have no idea where the money went. Apparently, it did not go where we were told it went. Certainly not into funding pensions.

    When Harkins said the budget was a mess he wasn’t kidding. You cannot solve a problem unless you know what the problem is. The FAC report is a first step. The Council has the power to fund and conduct investigations of Town business. This sounds like a good place for it.

    *kept in the dark and fed lots of bullsh*t

  16. 16 rex525

    Oh please…….while I am hardly a fan of the repugnant former Mayor or labor unions in general, they are not responsible for this pension mess. The responsiblity for this pension mess lies squarely on the shoulders of the previous Town Councils who have time and again either shortfunded, or directly stolen money from the fund for other purposes.

    The council also approves pension contracts, they are the majority on the pension board, they approve pensions and recommend and approve funding. Time for a reality check Republican party, you have been the majority members of the council for most of it!

    To try to direct blame elsewhere is what got us into this mess in the first place. Maybe it’s time for some honest dialog with our workers (if it’s not already too late). These problems can only be fixed with COOPERATION, not heavy handed tactics with town funded lawyers, MAYOR HARKINS TAKE NOTICE.

  17. 17 cstratct

    Sorry Phineast and Jezebel, but you’re off base here. It was Gavin himself who on this very blog vehemently defended the Town Council’s decision to RESTORE funds to last year’s BOE allocation. So the Town Council has the authority to make adjustments to the budget. It’s disingenuous to boast about the fact that proposed funds were restored for one line while implying the Council has no authority to make changes elsewhere.

    There were people arguing on this very blog that the budget process is the one time a year the Council actually does have the authority to do just this sort of thing.

    And Phin, while it may not be the Council’s responsbility to “write” the budget, the Council absolutely has a fiduciary responsibility and has the authority to make adjustments where necessary.

    Here is where I’m going to point out that George and others have been trying to address this very issue (the pension issue) for years. Everyone involved has known about it, so to suggest that they simply rubber stamp the numbers because they’re volunteers and didn’t write the budget is ridiculous. They chose to run for office, no one forced them. The Council has override authority on the budget ordinance. Those on the council could have taken action. They did it with respect to the BOE proposed funding level.

  18. 18 jezebel282

    Cstrat,

    “Those on the council could have taken action.”

    Although I am absolutely certain that Mr. Forrester can speak for himself, I should point out that the Council can only work with the numbers they have been given. We have already had Mr. Catalano here complaining about “murky” revenue and expenditure numbers. Sudds has correctly point out that actual YTD revenues and expenses are non-existent. I am not even going to mention the “budget transfers” that occurred during Miron’ tenure.

    But essentially I agree. As of the last charter revision, the Council was given the authority to investigate Town business. They have yet to use it.

  19. 19 jezebel282

    Editor’s note: against my better judgment, I have agreed to post the following comment and withhold the sender’s identity. It seems the fear of retribution has not left the Town yet.

    Jezebel,

    If a private company ran their pension plan like the Stratford politicians have run our town employees pension plan they would more than likely find themselves in federal prision.

    No where in the FAC report do we see referance to the $1,000,000.00 in bearer bonds that mysteriously went missing from Grand Central Station in New York while in possession of one of our former Stratford politicians some decades ago, and the effect this had on the pension fund.

    No where in this report do we see the previous “short funding” by the blatent disregard for professional actuarial recommendations, which happened under other town politicians; and the effect this had on the pension fund.

    Nowhere in this report do we see that part of the pension obligation bond debt payment was PAID OUT OF THE PENSION FUND, which happened under still other town politicians; and the effect this had on the pension fund.

    The list could go on and on, but I believe you get the picture.

    If a forensic accountant plugged all of these lost dollars from politically inspired capers back into the pension fund (at the time they occurred) and figured in ALL OF THE LOST INTEREST CAPITOL this fund would be OVERFUNDED at the present time.

    The FAC report highlights part of a problem but NOT the root cause.

    By the way isn’t it the Town Council members who are the MAJORITY on the pension board and haven’t the pension board chairmen always been members of the Town Council?

    But hey, it’s just easier to blame the greedy employees, right!

  20. 20 ronmoreau

    Well Done.

  21. 21 1george1

    I agree with REX and CHRIS counter to PHIN and JEZE.

    There is no doubt there are greedy employees who exploited the system
    and I believe ACTIVELY worked with both REPUBLICAN and DEMOCRATIC
    insiders who each have motives for kiting and obscuring figures.

    However, the UNIONS can request.
    MANAGEMENT grants.

    When the Town Councils > Managers > Superintendent / BoE > Attorneys
    and more each make their living off the public treasury, what is the likel;y
    result related to Transparency and Vested Interest?

    Human Nature goes where?

    Sorry Ron, Jeze, Phin, etc.
    Sometimes people do not realize the damage they do.
    Other times, some people do not care.

    PCS, I respect your intellectual integrity and recognize your legit biases.
    I suspect you might conceed not all of the people you prefer are blameless?

    Phylis? Star? Cyclops? Kane? Mike R? On Target? FoS? Gavin? Jon? Fahan? Matt?
    Dave Mooney? Laura D? Jimmy? Proto? Kubic? Moore? RJHX? Jeze?

  22. 22 1george1

    Jeze,

    I discussed the Million Dollar bearer bond with a few people and someone went to jail because of it. I am unsure of the year.

    Ron might know as it was about or before the time he was on theTown Council?

    Jeze, I have to give you props for posting the anonymous letter, however I
    disagree with a couple of the points within the letter:

    1. The 1998 Pension Bond of $ 95,000,000 was structure to solve problems of
    paying pension obligations on return on investment over repayment costs of
    interest and principal.
    – Unions and Management are trying to rewrite (revise) history.

    2. The renegotiations and kited calculations guarenteed failure.

    3. The stock market from Y2K, 9/11, IRAQ WAR, OIL / GAS PRICES
    guarenteed failure.

    4. The huge, huge, huge underperformance by portfolio investment
    companies, beyond # 3, guarenteed failure.

    5. The 2002 Town Council decision not to fund the pension shortfall
    and transfer obligations to tax payers, guarenteed failure of fully funding
    which meant the Tax Payer would be stuck with exploding pensions.

    6. The 2002 – 2003 Town Council decision give 3 year golden parachute
    where 63 people retired, which was 2 times to 3 times normal retirements
    and included people Union officials told me were NEVER INTENDED for DBP.

    7. The FAC had / has a political agenda.
    A) Art Stengel told me right out they had the votes to block anything I
    wanted to accomplish. I called Art (and the others by inference) a
    political hack. Art did find several hundred thousand in revenue by
    moving money for Miron / Burturla preferred bank TD Bank North.
    B) Thomas Angelo created the FAC report, but it included a PHRASE
    we voted to exclude.
    Bob Sammis and I were 2/3rd of the SubCommittee. Our requests ignored.
    Miron / Burturla / Norko provided certain information
    I believe was meant to protect Burturla/ Imbro / 2008 retiring police,
    per desire by Tom Moore, Michael Julian, Gavin Forrester, Joseph Kubic,
    Michael Henrich and others!

    Personally, I like these people for polite conversation and general public
    benefit.
    Do I believe they have 100 % integrity, in political dealings/public money?

  23. 23 ronmoreau

    George,

    The Bearer bond issue was prior to my council term.(nov. 1989 to nov.1991,with Keven William councilman at large.)

    My predecessor was Mr. Richard Miron w/ Mr. Richard Burturla as coucilman at large.(nov.1987 to nov.1989)

    Does anyone have a specific year on that debacle?

  24. 24 jezebel282

    Ron,

    “Does anyone have a specific year on that debacle?”

    First I’ve heard of it (but I’m not as old as you).

  25. 25 ronmoreau

    If I recall correctly, the Registrar of voters (at the Time)was involved in the debacle.

  26. 26 1george1

    Ron,

    I am guessing from the above post:

    1 – The bearer bond incident was 1989 to 1991

    2 – The bearer bond involved a Registrar of Voters, no party mentioned.

    3 – In the 1989 – 1991 Town Council included Dick Miron as a Town Councilor
    and Rich Burturla as the Town Council Chair, and was contemporaneous to
    the INFAMOUS MINI BUDGET of DOUBLE TAXATION which caused Diane Buda
    and Eleanor Burke to create the 1991 Town Initiative for Petitions for
    Referenda, for Public originated Legislation.

    4 – You were on the 1991 – 1993 Town Council with Kevin Williams as chair,
    and Joe Kubic as Councilor, with Florek as Town Attorney.

    Ron I was able to piece the above info from your post and my knowledge,
    of Town Council personnel which was sketchy prior to 1998,

    These people could mess up a “wet dream.”

    However, when “following the money” a hugely different picture emerges,
    regardless of what Jeze wants to post. There are some connect a dots.

  27. 27 ronmoreau

    George,

    1 – The bearer bond incident was 1989 to 1991

    NO.What part of “The Bearer bond issue was prior to my council term.” don’t you understand?

    2 – The bearer bond involved a Registrar of Voters, no party mentioned.

    Democrat.

    3 – In the 1989 – 1991 Town Council included Dick Miron as a Town Councilor
    and Rich Burturla as the Town Council Chair, and was contemporaneous to
    the INFAMOUS MINI BUDGET of DOUBLE TAXATION which caused Diane Buda
    and Eleanor Burke to create the 1991 Town Initiative for Petitions for
    Referenda, for Public originated Legislation.

    True.

    4 – You were on the 1991 – 1993 Town Council with Kevin Williams as chair,
    and Joe Kubic as Councilor, with Florek as Town Attorney.

    Keven William-C.A.L.

    1-Sally Martin
    2-Paul Corvino
    3-Ron Moreau
    4-Mike Zanouski.
    5-John Dempsey.
    6-George Jenkins.
    7-Jim Meehan.
    8-Tony Ross.
    9-Dave Lendacky.

    John Florek-Town Annty.

  28. 28 jezebel282

    George,

    “regardless of what Jeze wants to post.”

    Just trying to keep it real. Ya know?

  29. 29 ronmoreau

    3 – In the 1989 – 1991 Town Council included Dick Miron as a Town Councilor
    and Rich Burturla as the Town Council Chair, and was contemporaneous to
    the INFAMOUS MINI BUDGET of DOUBLE TAXATION which caused Diane Buda
    and Eleanor Burke to create the 1991 Town Initiative for Petitions for
    Referenda, for Public originated Legislation.

    I ment to say.True and not true.

    Not true, Miron/Burturla council was 1987-1989.

    The rest of the paragraph is true

  30. 30 ronmoreau

    George,

    I served on the 1989-1991 council. HELLO.

  31. 31 ronmoreau

    Sheesh….Let me try that again.

    1987-1991 council.
    Keven William-C.A.L.

    1-Sally Martin
    2-Paul Corvino
    3-Ron Moreau
    4-Mike Zanouski.
    5-John Dempsey.
    6-George Jenkins.
    7-Jim Meehan.
    8-Tony Vouzzo
    9-Tony Ross.
    10-Dave Lendacky.

    John Florek-Town Annty.

  32. 32 1george1

    Jeze,

    Our definitions of reality and relevance differ slightly.
    Generally we agree on Mirons / Burturlas.

    Ron,

    Thank you for the update which partially clarified info,
    but confused other info.

    I was in error that you were on council 1991-1993,
    but it was 1989 – 1991 and the bearer bond was before
    that, but you do not know the year.
    You do know it invovled a D – Registrar. (nice track record)

    I knew Burturla was Town Chair 1987 – 1989.
    I made another error, being distracted working while posting.
    HEY I ADMIT MY ERRORS …. UNLIKE.

    1989 was the YEAR of the MINI BUDGET.

    RON POST # 31 states 1987-1991 Town Council.
    I believe that should read 1989 – 1991 – Am I correct or wrong?
    I am 100 % sure Burturla, not Williams was 1987 – 1989 Chair!

    If you make honest mistakes and I make honest mistakes blog posting,
    at least it is not costing anyone with increased taxes.

    Notices all of that lil white powder falling off those $ 100 bills?
    sniff?
    Things go better with ….

  33. 33 ronmoreau

    George,
    Today is just not my day.

    I believe that should read 1989 – 1991 – Am I correct or wrong?

    I stand corrected.

    Notices all of that lil white powder falling off those $ 100 bills?
    sniff?
    Things go better with ….

    That stuff will kill you.

  34. 34 jezebel282

    Gentlemen,

    Thank you for the historical tutorial.

    Any ideas of how it went south and, more importantly, how it will be fixed?

  35. 35 phineast

    Jez you took the words out of my mouth….I also want to be absolutely certain it can never happen again. A million dollars is a lot of money, just wondering what the daddy spent it on…since we know it wasn’t at the quarry…just speculating, questioning and alleging …..

  36. 36 rex525

    Jez, “Thank you for the historical tutorial. Any ideas of how it went south and, more importantly, how it will be fixed?”

    I hate to sound like a broken record but you asked, so one more time- The responsiblity for this pension mess lies squarely on the shoulders of the previous Town Councils who have time and again either shortfunded, or directly stolen money from the fund for other purposes.

    The council also approves pension contracts, they are the majority on the pension board, they approve pensions and recommend and approve funding. Time for a reality check Republican party, you have been the majority members of the council for most of it!

    To try to direct blame elsewhere is what got us into this mess in the first place. Maybe it’s time for some honest dialog with our workers (if it’s not already too late). These problems can only be fixed with COOPERATION, not heavy handed tactics with town funded lawyers, MAYOR HARKINS TAKE NOTICE.

    While we’re at it an independent investigation into the previous council decisions, independent investigations of those accused of abusive overtime practices at the PD, as well as independent investigations on some of the questionable disability retirements would seem in order. Then if (when) wrongdoing is uncovered, lawsuits to recover the damages brought forward by COMPETENT, independent, out of town, non politically connected attorneys to recoup the funds for the losses incurred.

    This would have probably been a better use of the $200,000 that was already spent on another impotent pension fund study if you ask me. Don’t mind me if I don’t hold my breath waiting for this to come about, like the above poster stated- it’s much easier for the politicos to blame the employees (just look at the board of education HSA debacle).

  37. 37 rex525

    Phin,
    IF this mess ever gets fixed (and that’s a big IF) the only way we would be able to keep it that way is to handcuff the politicos by charter. Without a boiler plate mandate the politicians (from either party) just wouldn’t be able to help themselves from putting their fingers into it.

  38. 38 jezebel282

    Rex,

    “These problems can only be fixed with COOPERATION”

    Given your daily struggle at the RR Station and labors in Manhattan simply to afford to live here, what sort of cooperation would you suggest that wouldn’t break the budgets of families in Stratford?

    (I know it’s a big assumption, but I can’t imagine anyone who would tolerate that commute without a very good reason).

  39. 39 rex525

    An immediate open dialog with all employee unions on pension concessions for future hires (after all of the pre-budget sabre rattling that may not be easy now). This can probably only be accomplished now by the Harkins administration taking the previous suggestions seriously, investigating the real root causes for this mess, taking aggressive corrective actions, then lying the cards on the table openly and honestly with union leaders.

    AFTER this has been accomplished a reassessment of the fund and a realistic look at benefit vs. contribution reality. If the current employee benefits are out of line with their current contributions percentages give them the choice “keep the current bennies, just raise your contribution to cover them” (anyone who thinks that the current employees would willingly give up their current benefits to cover the mishandling of the fund by previous administrations should be branded a fool).

    Stratford did not get into this mess overnight and to think these problems can be corrected overnight is setting ourselves up for failure. The alternative will be more of the same with years of court battles ahead at taxpayer expense (not that the lawyers would mind).

  40. 40 rex525

    As for my daily struggles at the RR station, I think that entire issue is blown way out of proportion.

    My labors in Manhattan allow me to pay triple income tax and still afford the ridiculously high property taxes in this quaint New England town that I love (for now, because I’ve had it with the constant mismanagement, my house is on the market and I’m moving).

    As for the commute, it has become much more tolerable with wireless internet.

    BTW, didn’t you commute to the city earlier in life? I could have sworn I saw you there quite regularly at a quaint little venue called “runway 69” in the pre-Guliani time square.

  41. 41 jezebel282

    Rex,

    You might have. I had many commuter clients in Manhattan. However, after the IRS disallowed my deductions for fishnets, I was forced onto an alternative career path.

  42. 42 1george1

    I defer to REX on where the blame should be placed and probable
    appropriate courses of actions, which will not happen.

    Chris’s reply to Gavin also hit the nail on the head.

    I believe I “helped” lay foundation by expose past postings, and I include
    Jeze moving from a narrow “relevance” to recognizing there are outside
    factors both making problems worse, and protecting Nottingham like’minions..

    I believe Jeze has always meant to be constructive rather than destructive
    and like Ed Hargus, Marcia, Diane, and Eleanor among others have been an
    amatuer labor of love than a professional goblin of public trough truffles.

    Ron, we all make honest mistakes.
    Esecially with fat finger typos or a hurried post.
    Many people make mistakes in judgement.
    Some are more severe and wilful than others.
    Some people get suckered into situations, even if they knowingly
    and willing participate in lesser crimes.
    Some “socalled respectable people” are all ego and no self respect.
    There are also degrees of people who are not just shameless, but
    actually revel in acts of destruction.
    Some people do not project long term problems for short term gain.

  43. 43 jezebel282

    George,

    “I believe Jeze has always meant to be constructive”

    I listened to a commencement address yesterday (well, a lot of them). One of the speakers was astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D.

    He said something amazingly true. There are many things that we have taken for granted in life. We have always believed we would have a working economy, air to breathe, a clean Earth to live on, a job, and a government that works.

    We have none of these. Not a single day goes by that anyone can take for granted. It is not granted. It is not a given. It is not free. Not even municipal government. We must work at it every day.

    If anything written on this blog has encouraged someone to make the effort, think critically or try harder….the whole thing is worth it.

  44. 44 1george1

    If anything written on this blog has encouraged someone to make the
    effort, think critically or try harder….the whole thing is worth it.

    Jeze, you are a ferrocious debater and let virtually nothing go unchallenged!
    I believe we have impacted some of each other’s beliefs.

    It is good to have someone like rex, give me props on more than one occasion
    and to post his own viewpoints, which in many instances echo some of my posts
    and often far better written.

    We do not have to believe in everything or any of the same things for me to
    appreciate an honest perspective.

    Chris often takes exception to some of my posts, where none was intended.
    However his last post to Gavin, (who does not seem to debate me) hit the
    nail on the head related to more than Gavin.

    I would like to read Phyllis and Star post more often.
    Phyllis tends to be right on.
    Star is kindly.

    PCS is a great poster who usually has her facts lined up in a row.
    Our disagreements are more style than substance.
    I am glad to see the commuter Garage moving forward,
    I have no idea where the money will come from?
    Renovation of Stratford HS for another 20 years will be about $ 40 million
    Bond and I understand there may be a sell out for the younger Police /
    Fire in near future so Harkins can finish paying the dues!

    I appreciate that Phin is kinda an optimist.
    It is nice to read there are some people who have not been turned
    completely cynical by knowing what type of creatures inhabit the
    decision making positions in goveernment. They are not human!

  45. 45 jezebel282

    George,

    “Jeze, you are a ferrocious debater”

    L’il ole me?

  46. 46 jezebel282

    It seems unnecessary in most places, but Stratford is a tad different. Here, you actually have to discuss the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, unjust and righteous, efficient and wasteful.

    Plan A is one of those things.

    Years ago, Ed Gomeau realized Plan A was unsustainable. It is even less so now.

    In addition, Plan A has been abused, starved, misused, ignored, denied and cheated by the Town and certain employees. Currently, Plan A is underfunded and the citizens and taxpayers clearly cannot afford to write a check to cover the liability.

    An equitable (to the Town, it’s employees and citizens) solution must be found. Private sector employees only dream of pensions. It is their own responsibility to contribute to 401K’s, Keoughs, IRA’s and stuffing money under the mattress. But that is what they have accepted as terms of employment.

    Part of the dilemma is that Town employees who began their career 15, 20, 25 or 30 years ago were promised (in writing and repeatedly) that they would be entitled to a pension. Keeping your word is the right thing to do. It is one of those Stratford quirks that this must be stated.

    On the other hand, the Town does not have an obligation to drive off a cliff in order to keep it’s word. Once the Town declares bankruptcy, those who have retired can get their resumes together and try to find work. The checks stop. Raising taxes to meet pension obligations that have gone out of control is not an option either. More foreclosures and closed businesses will lower revenue. The death is just slower.

    So far, the best idea I have heard comes from Rex.

    “If the current employee benefits are out of line with their current contributions percentages give them the choice “keep the current bennies, just raise your contribution to cover them”

    After that, there should be immediate discussions to discontinue Plan A (and perhaps Plan B) for all new hires or employees with less than, say, 5 years of service.

    It just seems to be a reasonable solution.

  47. 47 rex525

    Jez, Thanks for the attaboy, just common sense at work really. I am in whole hearted agreement with your statement “After that, there should be immediate discussions to discontinue Plan A (and perhaps Plan B) for all new hires”. But for the 5 years service and under crowd, I disagree. A deal is still a deal and to quote your earlier statement “Keeping your word is the right thing to do.”

    Instead of outright breaking that deal, allow those employees a choice between a 401k style vehicle with financial incentive to move into such, or the option to “keep the current bennies, just raise your contribution to cover them”. As long as the expense is covered should we care how an employee plans their financial future?

    What does need to start is immediate dialog on this subject, and that my dear girl will be the hardest step with the apparent paralysis of this new administration.

  48. 48 1george1

    Rex / Jeze

    Would either of you have access to know what the highest Defined
    Benefit Plan recipient would havr gotten if Stratford had a Defined
    Contribution Plan?

    It is my belief that Stratford Pension Portfolio would be about 80 %
    fully funded under
    Defined Contribution Plan
    w/o the Golden Parachute
    w a hard cap of 60 % of Base

    The union line about BOND years 1 – 3 is a LIE and they KNOW BETTER,

    Conversely, I blame Mirons / Burturla / Dunn / Norm / others who
    actually could project the damages.

    While I like Tom Moore and do not dislike Imbro, they too know better.

    Maybe they are getting off, knowing they are all trying to steal a bundle
    and so far getting away with it.

    60 minutes tonight has a harvard / yale grad, who barely preceeded Madoff.
    He admitted he made an error in his business plan and kept believing he
    could pull it off.

    The locals consider me a threat.
    They are simply in my way.
    I went after those at the national (international) level last week’s star.
    I slapped the locals, but threw my haymakers at the War Makers.

    It would be nice to have the locals on my side,’
    I know for a fact the nationals have targets on locals / international.

    The betrayers are always betrayed
    The assassins are always eliminated.


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