Archive for the ‘History’ Category

OPEB-City of Memphis vs. Shelby County and MCS vs. Old Shelby County Schools

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

April 15, 2014

OPEB-City of Memphis vs. Shelby County and MCS vs. Old Shelby County Schools

This is a very interesting subject and shows how badly the City of Memphis has been run, both the school systems and the general administration.

Look at the following attachments

A)    Shelby County CAFR from 2013 showing an unfunded liability of $306 million. DOWN $13 million from 2008 to 2013.

B)    Shelby County CAFR from 2008 showing an unfunded liability of $319 million.

C)    City of Memphis CAFR 2008 showing an unfunded liability of $857 million.

D)   City of Memphis CAFR 2013 showing an unfunded liability of $1.29 billion dollars. UP $433 million from 2008 to 2013.

E)     Old Shelby County Board of Education 2011 showing an unfunded liability of $334 million (June 2010)

F)     City of Memphis Board of Education 2011 showing an unfunded liability of $1.16 billion dollars.

So it is obvious that Shelby County has been much better run than the City of Memphis and congratulations to past Shelby County (more…)

What Memphis Must Do

Monday, April 7th, 2014

April 7, 2014

What Memphis Must Do

We are coming down to crunch time at the City of Memphis concerning the 2015 budget. I have researched and written on the City finances ad nauseum. Now is decision time. Do we kick the can down the road (the past favorite for many years) or step up to the plate?

Shelby County is the model for what should have been done in past years. However the leadership from the past and present city mayors and city councils has been abysmal. Too many people on the pension rolls (remember the January 2001 pension resolution which gave pensions to elected and appointed people with just 12 years of service regardless of age), too many people on retiree health care, too many people with line of duty disabilities, too many people on the payroll, too many days not working due to excessive sick days, vacations and paid days off. The county and the city have much the same governmental formats (except in the case of line of duty disability) but in the past, the county just made the hard unpopular decisions and had a clear vision of what future costs would be. The City’s vision was the next election, not future cost control.

Here is what must be done at The City. Health care reform for active and retired employees by lowering the city’s costs dramatically. Pension reform by going to a defined contribution plan for all unvested employees. Turn line of duty disability (more…)

Flying In Or Out Of Memphis

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

March 4, 2014

Flying In Or Out Of Memphis

Yesterday I sent a letter to the editor of Commercial Appeal and it was published. It is shown below. As I read some of the reader comments to the letter, I was criticized for not being supportive of the new parking garage and for the future of Memphis. Believe me I want Memphis to grow and succeed and to get its fiscal house in order. Last week I asked for financial reports from the airport authority and while they were not published on the internet, they did send me electronically a huge list of Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs), a recent S&P credit rating report and lots of other information. All of this should be on their website but currently is not posted.

Here is some of the relevant data.

In the year 2000 we had 10.6 total passengers. In 2007 we had about the same numbers of total passengers. In 2013 we had 5.5 million passengers. Yet in 2001 they were planning the three story parking garage addition. In 2007 they stated in the CAFR that the new garage would proceed at a cost of $70 million dollars. Forward to 2009 and read the Memphis Business Journal article (more…)

Health Care For Public Retirees

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

February 20, 2014

Health Care For Public Retirees

This is another huge cost area for which the taxpayers are paying. You are paying 70% of the health care cost for City of Memphis and Shelby County retirees and 75% of the cost for MLGW retirees. The bills come each year for medical care for retirees and their families and the current annual bills are paid by the City, County and the MLGW as they occur.

But like pension liability, there is a future cost liability that is supposed to be taken care of by the OPEB funds (Other Post Employment Benefits), mainly future health care costs and life insurance for retirees). This is where the problem lies, mainly with the City of Memphis, and to a lesser extent with the MLGW and Shelby County.

The unfunded OPEB liability for the City of Memphis is $1.29 billion dollars. For the MLGW it is $420 million and for Shelby (more…)

Line Of Duty Disability Reform

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

February 13, 2014

There are lots of things that need reform in the Memphis pension system and we have talked about the need for going to a defined contribution system rather than the current defined benefit system. Hopefully we will get there if the Mayor and the City Council do the right thing.

However I have often spoken about the need for line of duty disability reform. The Memphis pension board regularly approves applications for line of duty disability applications and has ten times more former employees on line of duty disability than Shelby County government or the MLGW. (These people on line of duty disability get 60% of their final average salary for their lifetime tax free).

Now I find out from Jeni Diprizio (a great reporter for Channel 24) that last month (January 30, 2014) Jason Webb applied for and (more…)

$9 Million Blown Over Three Years

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

February 6, 2014

In reading through the Strategic Fiscal and Management Plan for the City of Memphis I keep finding things that amaze me as to the past fiscal mismanagement. It is quite clear that the City is supposed to pay 70% of the health care premiums and the employee is supposed to pay 30%. Look at the attached pages 46 through 49 of the plan. On page 46 the employees paid as low as 23.1% and as high as 26.9%. This cost you, the taxpayers, $9.2 million dollars over these three years. I presume the same was true for the OPEB retirees but I am checking. $9 million here, $5 million there and pretty soon you are talking about real money. On top of this mistake by the City, here is what the report says about the history and direction of health care cost, a huge part of the money problem.

On a fiscal year basis, from FY2008 to FY2012, the City’s General Fund contributions to the Basic and (more…)

A New Idea, Trust Free Enterprise

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

February 3,2014

A Hybrid Pension Plan Proposal

I have been following Mayor Wharton’s proposals in his state of the City speech and in the PFM group’s 5 Year Strategic Fiscal And Management Plan for the City of Memphis. I congratulate the Mayor for hiring this group and for the well written and realistic facts in the plan. I will be commenting on the plan over the next months as the debate rages in the City and the city council.

I have attached here part of the 182 page plan that concerns pension reform. They are recommending various pension plans for unvested (less than 10 years of service) and future new employees. The recommendations include a defined contribution plan or a combination of a defined contribution plan and a limited defined benefit plan similar to what the state of Tennessee has done for teachers and state employees.

Several years ago I participated in a pension reform study for Shelby County which ended up in Plan D for the county for new employees. The City adopted a similar plan for new employees only basically doing away with the disastrous 25 year retirement (more…)

DROP, The Pension Bomb

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

January 28, 2014

 

For a number of years I have received the agenda for the monthly meeting of the City of Memphis Pension Board. I have attended a number of these meetings. Here are a few things that you need to know.

1)    The board consists of the Mayor, the Comptroller and five employees with at least ten years of service, a retiree and only one citizen member. So it is obvious that this is rigged to approve whatever the employees want within the pension ordinance. Temporary Mayor Myron Lowery tried to appoint me to the board a few years ago and the Council voted it down.

Being familiar with meetings and agendas, I noted the agenda for the next meeting this Thursday, January 30. There were listed 30 DROP applications which will cost the City $1.62 million dollars per year in pension payments over the next three years while the DROP applicant is still working. Then I remembered that there were four periods during the year for DROP applications and January was one of the four. I went back to January, April, July and October 2013 and looked at those agendas and there were a total of 116 DROP applications amounting to $4.8 million dollars per year.

I need to explain the DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) provision of the pension system. This provision allows an employee to continue working for one, two or three additional years (most if not all choose 3 years), and to receive salary and pension at the same time. The pension payment goes into a special account and at the end of the drop period the employee will receive a lump sum payment which can be rolled over into a retirement account. The pension is frozen at the level that the employee starts his final retirement years (1, 2 or 3). The employee’s and the City’s pension contribution cease as of the start date of the DROP program.

The County does not have a similar program.

(more…)

Chickens Coming Home To Roost

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

January 23, 2014

More Info From the Memphis CAFR

Pick up the CA and you will get more articles than you can read over your morning coffee. They all point to the upcoming decisions of the Mayor and the City Council. The chickens are coming home to roost as they have been disturbed by the noise of the cans that have been kicked down the road.

As I sift through the current 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of the City of Memphis, I decided to compare several pages from the 2008 CAFR with the same pages from the 2013 CAFR.

(more…)

Decreasing Net Assets Of The City Of Memphis

Monday, January 13th, 2014

January 13, 2014

 

In recent days, the City of Memphis finally published their Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) on line. In between watching the NFL playoff games and Tiger basketball, I have been reading this important document. It will never outsell “Gone With The Wind” or the Bible in popularity but to me it makes fascinating reading. It is like reading a diary as the Administration tries to put the best face on things but the public auditors (Banks, Finley White and Co) have to publish the facts as presented to them by the administration while at the same time going over the books for verification of what they are told.

 

One of the most interesting and important statements is the following one found in the section entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis”. It reads as follows.

 

“Over time, increases or decreases in net assets may serve as a useful indicator of whether the financial position of the City is improving or deteriorating.”

 

(more…)