Archive for the ‘Taxes’ 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…)

PILOTS-Are They Paying Their Way?

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

April 10, 2014

PILOTS-Are They Paying Their Way?

I am not talking about Malasian flight 370 but they are just as mysterious. “PILOT” stands for Payment In Lieu of Taxes. A company opens a business here or expands a business here or moves from one place to another and asks for abatement of taxes for the next 5, 10, 15 or more years from the City or the County or both.

They go to EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine) run by Reid Dulberger and 5 will get your 10 that they will get the tax abatement for 15. According to the EDGE website “The impact of the program since 2008 includes: 14,500 new jobs with $581 million of new annual payroll, $3.88 billion new capital investment, $464 million new Minority/Women-owned business receipts and 17,900 talented individuals attracted/retained.”

WOW. Who could be against those numbers? But wait, why does it not show up as additional income for Memphis and Shelby County?

Here is what their database says. “To date, EDGE projects have generated $1.6 billion in projected capital investment, 6,676 new/retained jobs, $545 million in projected new tax revenue and $344 million in MWBE/LOSB spending commitments.” WHERE IS THE BEEF?

Here are my thoughts on what needs to be done.

Attached here is David Lenoir’s (Shelby County Trustee) 2013 In-Lieu Properties Annual Report. Total tax exemptions stand at $49.9 million at the end of 2013. Section VI shows contractS aged by expiration date and Section VII shows In-Lieu delinquent tax notices.

It is my understanding from Mr. Lenoir that this shows only in lieu information from the county, not the city. Therefore the $50 million annual tax abatement is probably more like $75 million total city and county.

Here, in my opinion, is what needs to be done to restore some confidence to the EDGE program.

1)    The City of Memphis should publish a similar annual report showing their figures as the County does in the same format.

2)    Both the County and the City should show a report showing all the past Pilots that have been completed (Section VI) and showing the abated tax amount and then the actual tax amounts for each year after the end of the Pilot for the property so that the (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…)

Comparison of City of Memphis Health Care Cost to Obamacare

Monday, March 31st, 2014

March 31, 2014

 

Comparison of City of Memphis Health Care Cost to Obamacare

It is fascinating to watch the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) deadlines pass, the specific provisions of the law get changed and the media spin go round and round. I decided to look at the current City of Memphis health care costs and compare it with Obamacare bronze, silver, gold,Platinum and catastrophic health plans.

First the City of Memphis three plans, Basic, Premier and Value plans.

Plan Type                  Annual Cost to Employee             Annual Cost to Taxpayers

Basic single                           $1944                                                            $6480

Basic Plan family                 $4127                                                            $13757

Premier single                     $2109                                                            $7030

Premier family                    $4260                                                            $14201

Value Plan single                $1008                                                            $3360

Value Plan family               $3540                                                            $11800

Annual Deductible In Network

Basic Plan Single                                         $350

Basic Plan Family                                        $1050

Premier Plan Single                                   $100

Premier Plan Family                                  $300

Value Plan Single                                        $1500

Value Plan Family                                       $3000

Co-Insurance Hospital and Other Services

Basic Plan                                         10% You, 90% Plan

Premier Plan                                    0% You, 100% Plan

Value Plan                                        30% You, 70% Plan

Annual Out Of Pocket Maximum

Basic Plan                                         Sgl $1500, Family $3000

Premier Plan                                    Nothing

Value Plan                                        Sgl $3000, Family $6000

Office Visit and Hospital

Basic Plan- (Primary Care Physician (PCP) and Specialist, 10% after deductible, Plan 90%)

Premier Plan- ($20 for PCP, $40 Specialist + deductible, Plan 100%)

Value Plan- (30% after deductible, Plan 70%)

There are other items as shown on the attached sheet but these are the major items. These look like good deals for City employees but depending on income, some may do better on Obamacare.

Now as to Obamacare, it is very difficult to get comparable figures because they do not want you to know until you submit all your (more…)

Health Care At Local Public Employers Under Obamacare

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

March 24, 2014

Health Care At Local Public Employers Under Obamacare

There was a fascinating presentation last Tuesday at the City of Memphis Executive Committee meeting. Shea Flinn introduced Stuart Collier of Collier Insurance who introduced Eric Hellman of Continuous Health.

Mr. Hellman’s presentation sought to explain Obamacare’s effect on health care and particularly its possible effect on health care costs for the City of Memphis and by the same token, Shelby County and the MLGW. It was a well done presentation and you can see his power point presentation here and also you can go to the City of Memphis website and see and hear the videotaped presentation (http://memphis.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=4157).

It was long but very informative. What I got out of what he was saying is that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) opens up the possibility of reducing cost for the City of Memphis by letting lower paid employees go to the state exchanges to get subsidized coverage. That means the taxpayers, nationwide, will pick up part of our heath care cost.

There are four main points in Obamacare as it was originally signed. (Of course it changes day to day with executive orders).

  • All employees working 30 hours per week or more must be covered.
  • The coverage provided must be affordable. Affordable means it must pay at least 60% of the average medical costs of what the Department of Health and Human Services determines to be a standard population.
  • Obamacare limits the amount an employee can be required to pay towards the annual health insurance premium to 9.5% of the employee’s household income.
  • Obamacare requires coverage to be affordable and for those employees whose annual income is less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, Obamacare provides a federal tax credit to partially subsidize the purchase of insurance in a public exchange. This translates to individuals with incomes up to $44,680 and to families of four with incomes up to $92,200.

Confused? What a monster these DC politicians have created. However I think Collier and Hellman should be hired to present their (more…)

Common Core Educational Standards-Good Or Bad?

Monday, March 10th, 2014

March 10, 2014

Common Core Educational Standards-Good Or Bad?

 

This is a subject that I consider more important than even pension reform. This will determine the educational level of our children and grandchildren and the future of our country both economically and from a freedom standpoint.

What Common Core purports to do is set a uniform school curriculum across the country leading to uniform testing and higher standards. What it is fact will do, if fully implemented, is take local control out of the hands of local school boards and particularly out of the hands of parents.

In my 10 years of “OPEN RECORDS ADVOCACY” I have come to the opinion that the most difficult people to get open records information from is local school bureaucrats, starting with the old Memphis School System and now the new Shelby County School bureaucracy which acts much like the old City of Memphis School bureaucracy.

This coming Friday evening Mrs. Karen Lamoreaux (Arkansas) will speak from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at White Station Church of Christ, 2nd floor, 1106 Colonial Road. Listen to her in a short youtube video as she took apart the local school board.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZEGijN_8R0

Please try to be there and learn what she is doing in Arkansas and nationwide.

This is a person who knows what is going on and we need to listen to her and take local action on our own school board. I feel her frustration as it is very difficult to get through the bureaucracy and get results.

Within the last few months I asked the Shelby County School System for the following information.

“I would like to have access to and view all data requests regarding data that the school system is collecting on the students. I would like to know if this data is requested and collected from the students directly without parental involvement or if the parents are requested to furnish this information or data and if this information is voluntary or required of the students or parents.

Their answer was the following.

“Your request is not granted because it is not understood.”

(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…)