Archive for February, 2012

Where Can Money Be Saved In The Budget?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

February 29, 2012

The crunch is on here in Memphis. We are facing a deficit this year of $18 million and next year a deficit of $47 million. This is after giving a bonus to City employees last Christmas of $6.2 million. Sound crazy-You bet.

Let’s face it. We are living beyond our means. The County Government is the only one doing a reasonable job. Even at the County there is much that could be cut in educational expense but there is a state “MAINTENANCE OF EFFORT LAW” that prevents reasonable reforms and cost saving measures.

So let’s look at the City of Memphis operating budget.

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Finally Action On Disability At The City Of Memphis

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

February 27, 2012

I want to take some credit along with public officials and the Media for finally taking some action on this abuse of public money. I published a blog post on April 26, 2010 pointing out that disability rates at the City of Memphis was 10 times higher than the rate at the MLGW and Shelby County. (If you are not aware of the scandal in disability on a national level, it is of epic proportions and is bankrupting the country. Also be aware that disability payments are tax free for life).

 

Channel 3 took up the subject and Keli Rabon did good research and a story on the subject mentioning Collierville Representative Curry Todd who is a line of duty disability recipient. Then after doing more research I found that the pension ordinance states that if a disability recipient engages in a gainful occupation not with the city or returns to employment with the city, his disability benefits shall be reduced so that the sum of his disability benefit payments and compensation from such occupation or city employment shall not exceed his average monthly compensation as of the original date of his disability.

This has been in the ordinance since 1948 or before and we have lost millions by not enforcing this provision. I blame past administrations for this abuse and especially former Mayor Herenton.

Finally the Wharton administration is doing the right thing but the City Council has refused a sensible new proposed provision that would require disability recipients to take a city job that they could do rather than go on disability.

Another change that needs to be made is to turn over all disability approvals to an insurance company (as Shelby County does) or completely rework the makeup of the pension board that approves these disability applications so that there is a majority of the board made up of taxpayers who do not work for the City of Memphis. With a budget deficit for this year and a huge one coming in the next year, we can no longer afford this huge money drain.

The Great Bond Wizard

Monday, February 20th, 2012

I have been trying to get my arms around the subject of TIFs and TDZs. What the heck is that you ask? Unlike Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, there is no yellow brick road to follow so I had to resort to research.

Well here is part of what I found. TIFs are Tax Incremental Financing deals.

A geographic area is designated (the TIF district); a plan for specific (more…)

Behind Closed Doors

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Behind Closed Doors

Today the Tennessee Senate will consider Senate Bill 2207 as shown below. This is a bill that the Governor wants to be able to negotiatate how your tax money will be spent to entice a company to come to Tennessee instead of the other 49 states or maybe going to China.

I am a long time advocate of open records as is Ben Cunningham as mentioned in the CA article today on this subject. Ben is a friend and is responsible for the Nashville not being able to raise their property taxes without the voters being able to say Yes or No. I wish we had such a provision here. Also Frank Gibson, Tennessee’s leading advocate for open records, is also against these bills. Even the CA wants open records in most cases.

There is another bill shown below, SB 1168, which is the bill wanted by the local chamber of commerce to close the doors and records on giving away our tax money. You only need to look at the Electrolux deal to see what a bad idea that is. I ask you to oppose both of these bills in the name of open records and against closed door deals with our tax money.

 

SB 2207

Public Records – As introduced, classifies as confidential the due diligence materials submitted by a company to the department of economic and community development; confidentiality applies until such time as the provider of the material no longer requires its confidentiality.

 

SB 1168

Public Records – As introduced, authorizes a local government’s legislative body to designate certain records as proprietary information, and thereby not subject to public records law.

 

Huge Health Care Cost Differentials

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Why Are MLGW Health Care Costs So Much Higher Than Others?

This is a subject that I have been investigating for some time and I still do not have the answer. Here are the current health care insurance rates for MLGW employees and retirees. To keep it understandable, I will show only the family rates with the cost to the employee or retiree, the cost to the ratepayer (MLGW) or the taxpayer (Memphis and Shelby County) and the total cost.

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Defined Benefit Pensions vs Defined Contribution

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

In the last few days I attended the retirement (pension) board meetings of the MLGW and Shelby County Government. These two are better funded than the City of Memphis pension system but looking at the investment earnings reports sends shivers up my spine.

Look at the MLGW report. For the calendar year 2011, the fund earned 3.8%. (more…)

Can You Blame The Suburbs?

Monday, February 6th, 2012

The CA yesterday was filled with articles telling the taxpayers that they need Memphis and should not be afraid of becoming part of Memphis. Well I have been part of Memphis for years and have paid my fair share or more in taxes and I am here to say that I am fed up with the argument that we need to shell out more to save downtown and the fairgrounds and etc. etc. etc.

I would like to point out the millions and millions that have been wasted by past and even present administrations who have run the (more…)

Disability At The City Of Memphis, The Shameful History

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

I was the first one to notice that the line of duty disability rate of approval at the City of Memphis was 10 times higher than Shelby County government or the MLGW. I asked why.

The answer was in the pension ordinance. The ordinance states the following concerning the makeup of the pension board which approves (more…)