Archive for the ‘Pension and Benefits’ Category

Municipal Budgets 2021 (4) Pension Contributions

Comparing pension records to 2021 budget allocations that municipalities in Union County made for their contributions to the New Jersey Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) shows that, on average, PERS and PFRS contributions made up 8.17% of total budgets, representing $170 per resident. The average contribution as a percentage of a participant’s salary came to 25.03% with $19,942 as the average contribution per participant.

Spreadsheets with this data and a breakdown by municipality follow.

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Tap Into Taxpayer Anger

Tapinto Westfield followed up on the massive raises Union County department heads are giving themselves by linking to this blog and getting this explanations from the Commissioner Chairman:

Commissioner Chairman Al Mirabella in an interview Monday said the raises for department heads — including an 18.8% salary increase for Union County Manager Ed Oatman, which would bring his salary to $220,977.01 — are justified. “We felt that it was in line with what other executives, other administrators make, and we felt like it was an adjustment to compensate him accordingly for what his responsibility is,” Mirabella said….Mirabella said that in Union County, the county manager serves a role that in some other counties — such as nearby Essex County — is filled by two people: a county executive and a county administrator. Five counties in New Jersey have a county executive….The board arrived at the raises following annual reviews, Mirabella said. Among the considerations, he said, was performance during the pandemic and certain administrators serving in more than one position….The pay hikes also come after a workforce reduction at the county from 2,491 employees to 2,096, Mirabella said.This year, the county shut its jail in Elizabeth through a shared services with Essex County that, officials said, saves $20 million annually, a move enabled by a declining prison population. It follows the 2019 closure of the Union County Juvenile Detention Center in Linden. “There’s been a reduction in the county workforce, which saves obviously significant dollars in fringe benefits,” said Mirabella, who also said the county has a AAA bond rating.

Basically, working from home most of the time, overseeing 400 less people, and not overseeing a jail, juvenile detention center, or Runnells is the justification for an 18.8% raise. And Union County also happens to have a Deputy County Manager. At this rate, imagine what Union County taxpayers would be paying the County Manager if the county had no employees and did nothing.

Other people had different takes:

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Tap Into Taxpayer Apathy

As is the case in many large organizations, the staff provide direction to the board, rather than vice versa.

Jeffrey C. Hooke – The Myth of Private Equity (pages 10-11)

The quote refers to public pension boards, specifically in Maryland, but applies equally to government boards like the Union County Board of Commissioners who define the art of rubber stamping. This time a media outlet, Tapinto Westfield, noticed possibly on account the massive size of the raises the honchos employed at Union County are giving themselves (throwing in a little something for the board members as well).

For example, at this rate of salary increase, you may be interested to know what year County Manager Ed Oatman will be making over a million dollars in annual salary.

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KBudget(1)-PFRS Bills

So starts this six-blog series on the 2021 Kenilworth budget with my question on pension bills. If you want to follow ahead the full Q&A (and slander) during the hearing is at the bottom of this blog.

Whereas in Union County this was the answer:

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CBBS (3) PFRS Bill-To-Budget Theft

For Bergen and Monmouth counties the amounts appropriated for PFRS contributions in their budgets do include a buffer. I do not have access to their check registries but billing history does go back to 2017 on the state website and those amounts do approximate what is reported as charged in their budgets with the excess appropriation reserved (mostly and with 2021 still to be adjusted). Not so in Union County where I do have check registry data going back to 2005 and it shows $1,360,304 unaccounted for.

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Local NJ Pension Hikes

Under covid cover, New Jersey actuaries came up with a massive increase in pension payments required of localities in 2021 after years of modest hikes (and even reductions in some years) if Kenilworth is any measure.

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NJ state senator may be ineligible for pension credits after report claims ‘serial absenteeism’

That is the headline from a story that starts:

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari’s alleged no-show job as Linden’s municipal prosecutor — first revealed in a 2019 audit — likely allowed him to collect years of pension credits for which he was ineligible and could expose him to potential criminal prosecution, an investigative report obtained by the USA Today Network New Jersey shows.The 59-page report, prepared for Linden by law firm Calcagni & Kanefsky, accuses Scutari of “serial absenteeism” during his last five years as prosecutor. It also says the powerful Union County Democrat cost Linden nearly $200,000 and compares his actions to those of Wayne Bryant, the former state senator found guilty in 2008 of illegally padding his pension with a no-show job.

…….

Scutari, who oversees political and judicial appointments as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also leads the Union County Democratic Committee.

That latter job allows Scutari, in a Democrat-dominated county, to pick who he wants to sit on the Board of Commissioners and, by extension, who gets hired by Union County for any job or contract.

Though Nicholas Scutari’s Senate bio page lists his Public/Party Service as “City of Linden Prosecutor 2003-present” that is not the case as only relatives* appear on the latest datauniverse databases. However, back in 2017, he was listed:

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Buffer Pirates

I submitted my question on Monday giving the financial people time to think up an answer. This is the best they could do:

My guess is that this answer came from the accountants (Suplee, Clooney & Company) and something was lost in translation.

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What Did You Do With the Money?

Ringo Starr: What money?

Stuttering John: The money your mother gave you for singing lessons.

Ringo Starr: I spent it on fish and chips?

I will be asking a version of this question tomorrow of the Union County commissioners at their zoom meeting though it will relate to the money that they claimed was going into the the state retirement system for their employees.

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Rising Union County Pension Payments – Detail

Local Employer Pension Contributions for the year ending Jun 30, 2021 (payable in early 2021) were posted on the state website and a comparison to FY20 costs showed total contribution increases for Union County and municipalities in the county going up by over $15 million, 10% on average, but the hikes were not evenly distributed. Here is a listing of payments to PERS or PFRS sorted by percentage increases.

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