Archive for March, 2012

Article In The Memphis Flyer

Friday, March 30th, 2012

March 30, 2012

I, like thousands of Memphians, read the weekly Memphis Flyer, a well written and popular local newspaper. The issue of School Consolidation and all its various ramifications, twists and turns has been well covered by the Flyer. Jackson Baker asked me about my thoughts and opinions on this consolidation and I told him about what I considered two important issues, the land and buildings in the six incorporated cities in Shelby County and the OPEB issue. He asked that I write an article for the issue that came out yesterday. Here it is in case you did not pick up the current print issue or you did not read it online at the Memphis Flyer’s very interesting website. Read it and let me know what you think.

Finally Some Disability Reform

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

March 29, 2012

It is not often that I get a news scoop but I decided today to go to the City of Memphis Pension Board meeting at City Hall. Item #7 on the agenda listed POSSIBLE RECALLS. I wondered if this could possibly be the beginnings of the movement to enforce the existing pension ordinance concerning disability, (more…)

The Unified (?) School System

Monday, March 26th, 2012

March 26, 2012

There was a guest column last Friday in the CA written by Barbara Prescott, chairwoman of the Transition Planning Commission. I heard her speak at a meeting in Collierville and she is smart and even handed. They seem to be headed for a structure comprising six (more…)

Is Memphis Serious About Cutting the Budget?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

March 21, 2012

In my last post I asked the question “Why are public health care costs so different?” Yesterday I listened to the City Council discussion concerning the proposed property tax increase. There is an obvious savings that could amount to over $6 million dollars next year and every year thereafter. Read on.

I have attached a spreadsheet showing the various retiree health care rates at the City of Memphis versus Shelby County and comparing the cost to the (more…)

Why Are Public Health Care Costs So Different?

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

March 14, 2012

As we search for savings to reduce our taxes and utility bills, I dare to point out the following facts.

Active public employee family health care plans:

MLGW-PPO plan 661 members @$18,646.32 per year total cost with MLGW paying 75% or $13,984.74 per year.

Memphis—basic plan- $11,769.60 per year total cost with the City paying 70% or $8,238.72 per year.

Difference is $5,746 per year per family. If the MLGW was brought back to the Memphis rate this would save the rate payers $3.8 million per year.

There are many other comparisons particularly in the various classifications such as single active employees, retirees under 65, retirees over 65 and special plans, some as high as $29,785 total annual cost at the MLGW.

However, the biggest area of potential savings are those retirees that are eligible (or their spouse is eligible) for Medicare. Here is where a bit of history (more…)

The New Airport Parking and Rental Car Center

Monday, March 12th, 2012

March 11, 2012

I have become interested in learning more about public bonds and our local debt. Ho hum I hear you saying but it is important and affects your tax bill and how much you have to spend on food, housing, education, travel, entertainment and health care.

Recently I went to pick up my brother from the airport and there was this big building under construction partially blocking my view of what is a beautiful airport entrance. Later I contacted the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority and asked for information on the project. Brian Kuhn, General Counsel, responded promptly and completely and I appreciate his response and information.

I have attached his letter and the front page of the bond document. On the front page it is very clear that the State of Tennessee, Memphis and Shelby County are not on the hook in case things do not work out for this investment. That is good and this type of front end clear statement should be part of all public debt instruments and be available online to the taxpaying public.

Now as to whether this is going to work out and be financially viable, that is another question. I don’t know about you but I am very unhappy with the whole air fare situation and air service selection in Memphis. (See a letter to the editor this morning). Any trip less than 500 miles and I am probably driving and then I don’t have to pay an additional charge for my luggage. With the advent of Skype and other visual communications, visiting in person is not as important as it used to be, especially in business.

I wish the Airport Authority well as generally they have a good management history compared to the City of Memphis. I hope the parking and car rental structure works out but at least, considering local taxes, it is not likely to cost me more which cannot be said for other local bonds, pension and health care costs.

“How Much Is Enough?”

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

March 6, 2012

I have been studying the financial statements of the MLGW and I have to ask the above question, HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

Consider the following comparisons between the 2005 and the latest 2010 financial statements.

MLGW increase in net assets 2010 compared to 2005. $364 million dollars

MLGW increase in working capital 2010 compared to 2005. $172 million dollars

MLGW increase in customers 2010 compared to 2005. NONE (essentially 420,000 customers)