Archive for April, 2013

The Budget Beast-Reform Or Put It On A Diet

Monday, April 29th, 2013

April 29, 2013

I heard City Councilman Jim Strickland recently talking about the upcoming budget hearings. He is chairman of the budget committee. He has a tough job as it is difficult to get seven votes to pass any significant cuts.

His suggestion seems to be to put the budget beast on a diet. In other words, the County Assessor has predicted that the new property tax assessments will be down 4-1/2%. Jim wants to let the pot of property tax money fall by this amount which would mean a reduction of about 3-1/4%. The Mayor, on the other hand, wants to increase property taxes rates by 28 cents or 9%. Faced with those (more…)

Can Kicking Experts

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

April 23, 2013

I have gone to the posted 2014 City of Memphis budgets (Operating and CIP) and here are some of the items. In the Mayor’s letter concerning the operating budget here are some of the things he said.

This FY2014 budget is a balanced budget that can also essentially be termed as a “continuation budget” in the sense that the level of services provided for in the FY2013 budget are essentially the same.

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The Smart Meters Vote Is Here

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

April 17, 2013

The MLGW will vote tomorrow on smart meters. If it passes, it will then go to the City Council.

There is a lot to like in the technology of smart meters. The collection of billing data from the smart meter system can save money by not requiring meter readers. It also can give a better picture of the system and can be helpful in restoring outages and helping the overall stability of the system.

However what I do not like about the future of the system is the following.

1)    Regardless of what MLGW says, MLGW will not control the eventual use of smart meters. This will come down from the Federal Government through TVA and the State of Tennessee. What the Federal government wants is to control your use of electricity, gas and water in the name of global warming. They will do this with time of day rates. They have already regulated the use of coal and (more…)

April Fool’s Day 2013-The Tax Man Cometh

Monday, April 15th, 2013

April 15, 2013

Hurry and write those checks and get them into the post office. Also more good news, the City Council and the County Commission start budget discussions. I have looked at the proposed 2014 County budget and compared it to the 2009 adopted budget. The 2009 adopted budget (countywide total) was $1.12 billion. The 2014 proposed budget is $1.17 billion.

The county up until the recent last few years has done a good fiscal job compared to the City of Memphis. The real problems are down at City Hall. However, I do not like the trends I see on the current County Commission which is looking more like the City Council.

Looking at the expenditures, it is obvious that the main items are personnel and education.

Let’s start with personnel. This is the real areas of possible savings. However, can seven votes be garnered to cut salaries and benefits? The figures show that the average city and county salaries and benefits are 50 to 60 percent greater than the average (more…)

Pension Reform Facts Versus Misinformation

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

April 11, 2013

Here is a recent reply from a reader to a blogpost that I wrote called “Pension Reform Must Come Soon”.

I would like to address the reply post that the reader wrote.

Well let’s look at some of these?
a. Not fully funded, means if all of the employees retired today, it would be under funded.

He is saying that the actuaries are incorrect in their actuarial assumptions about underfunding. He is saying that the underfunding is only important if everybody retired tomorrow and wanted their full pensions the day after tomorrow. Look at Detroit and Stockton, California. The judges ruled that they were bankrupt.
b. The city doesn’t have to deposit its part into the pension fund, if the fund is in the black. Back in the 90′s they didn’t make deposits (more…)

Educational Competition Is The Answer

Monday, April 8th, 2013

April 8, 2013

I was very disappointed to see that some kind of state wide voucher program may not be passed this year. It should be across the board and available to every family regardless of income. After all, it is the taxpayer’s money, not the government’s money.

The large bureaucratic educational monopoly gives us the result that all monopolies produce. That is an inferior high cost product, the education of our children. One thing that it does very well is produce lots of high paying jobs with fancy titles, good pensions and high end benefits.

The educational bureaucracy continues to say that we must spend more for inferior results. They have one thing in mind, protecting their jobs and protecting the union dues that go to the politicians they help to elect. They fear competition because wherever competition from home schooling, vouchers and charter schools have been in place, such competition has produced positive results which show up the public education lie.

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Smart Meters and Time Of Day Rates

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

April 4, 2013

There is a proposal to buy 60,000 so called smart meters at the MLGW. This started out to be 6000 meters but got bumped up to 60,000. I originally thought they were all electric meters but I found out that they are divided into 20,000 electric, 20,000 gas and 20,000 water meters.

Whoa! Let’s back up and rethink this expensive and experimental purchase. First let’s look at the purposes or stated purposes of smart meters.

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Memphis Pension Lump Sum Benefit

Monday, April 1st, 2013

April 1, 2013

On April Fool’s day it is hard to believe anything that someone tells you. Well here is one that you can believe or not but read the facts.

I attended a City of Memphis pension board meeting last Thursday at City Hall. I have attached the agenda for that meeting. There were two people on the agenda that decided to take a reduced service retirement in a lump sum amount rather than in a semi monthly pension. I asked why they would do this and was told that there are a number of reasons. If a person is in very bad health, that  could be one reason. 

The amounts of these lump sums were $56,503.64 and $92,330.61. I decided to research the pension ordinance and found another possible reason. According to the pension rules, the following is the schedule of lump sum distributions.

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