Bloomington Pensions – Round 1

By:  Diane Benjamin

I doubt you noticed, but I haven’t written about last Monday’s Council meeting.  I still can’t convey the outrage I feel properly, but I will give it a shot.  A number of items shocked me, it’s hard to believe the people claiming to represent you didn’t just immigrate from a communist country.  They rule by their warp ideology of government solves problems, public servant isn’t a label the majority of them deserve.

Name some Bloomington problems.  Bad roads, underfunded pensions, high taxes and constant increases, Coliseum bleeding money, BCPA subsidized by people who never go there, and developers refusing to pay.  The list could be endless, but don’t forget the UNUSED fire station and the UNUSED Water Tower.  Actions of past Council have proved to be totally wrong, but this council thinks they are brilliant, therefore they deserve to redevelop downtown.  Government CAUSES problem, they don’t solve them.

Back to last Monday.  If the Mayor or City Manager actually had any integrity and cared about taxpayers, they wouldn’t have wimped out on reforming Sick Leave Buy Back.  Public opinion should have been used against City employees who believe they are ENTITLED to spike their pensions!  They already will get paid to NOT work at mostly taxpayer expense and get a 3% raise every year.  Government jobs are the golden goose few people in the private sector will ever see.  Bow now folks.

Mayor Renner and David Hales could have gone to the local media and told the truth.  The policy should have been fixed in 2011 before it cost YOU $1.3 million.  Without change it will cost you even more.  Let’s all give David Hales another big raise – he’s doing a GREAT job.

Remember, this all would have been a secret without the Chicago Tribune exposing former HR Director Emily Bell’s spike – the BIGGEST in ILLINOIS.

Remember, the Council didn’t know about the $1.3 million because Wire Transfers never made it to Bills and Payroll for approval.  Where was the outrage Council?  crickets

Here’s some facts for you.  In 2014 former City Manger Tom Hamilton was paid $10,800.11 EVERY MONTH to not work.  Emily Bell was paid $9,431.74 EVERY MONTH to not work.  See a list of the top 100 MONTHLY pensions to former City employees here:  Top 100 Bloomington pensions

See all Bloomington pensions here:  http://www.openthebooks.com/search/?PensionCode=22&F_fiscalyear=2014&F_employernm=City%20Of%20Bloomington&F_employeenm=&pg=1

150 people are paid more than $1,900 a month to NOT work.  The State of Illinois created this fiasco and included language for government workers that will require another Constitutional Convention to fix.  Since government was created for government workers and campaign contributions, taxpayers pay the price.  Renner and Hales could have stood up for you.  Employees should be embarrassed to claim they have a RIGHT to spike pensions.  Nobody is taking their Sick Leave Buy Back away, just when they get it.

Citizens have no rights, only government employees.  The Pantagraph did an editorial about State employees ripping off taxpayers, but they are silent on local ripoffs.  They didn’t notice local agencies pay people to leave too.  Who is looking out for citizens?  Nobody.

Public outrage could have kept the unions from suing.  Even if the unions did sue, the future liability to taxpayers the City refuses to fix, can pay a lot of legal fees.  How much did the Power Point Jeff Jurgens used to justify NOT changing the policy cost taxpayers to put together?  A better question:  The Council couldn’t even change the policy for Non-Union employees?  Gee, it never came up.  Funny how they are the worst offenders!  Bell and Hamilton weren’t union.

The entire presentation was nothing more than “screw you citizens”.  Employees are more important.

There’s more that happened Monday night.  Stay tuned.

9 thoughts on “Bloomington Pensions – Round 1

  1. I did notice that you hadn’t yet reported on the most recent meeting of potted plants with communist pawn leadership. As one person, I am outraged but I look at this situation as a lost cause. I look at this town and this state as a lost cause. Toast, burned to a crisp. I question how high my blood pressure will elevate in evaluating my show of outrage. Seriously, will I burst a vessel or bring on the big one? This is one extremely disoriented and blatantly foolish governmental agency in regards to the mayor, the city manager, and most of the time 8 out of 9 council members that have drank so much of the liberal agenda kool-aid that vote like complete idiots. Like many other folks have proved that Illinois is #1 or #2 in, I too will vacate this city, this state in the next couple of years. I will take my retirement income (toting along 6 family members) out of here and to a state that is much more fiscally conservative and consistently shows their citizens a respect for the protection of inalienable rights that we as human beings deserve. Yes, I will be gone.

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  2. I always remembered from being on a school board if you made any changes that were set up in the contract then the union had the option to open the contract up for negotiation. Usually the non union employees were given the same benefits and pay too to be fair.

    I thought this whole debacle was over non union employees and not union employees or were union employees pulled into this as a scare tactic. Am I messing something here? Why sure I could see the unions suing if the city is changing the contract. One way around that would be for the city to file for bankruptcy I believe. End of contract.

    Anyhow it was a weak excuse at best to use a scare tactic that the city would be sued. Yeah how much have they pi…..ed away already so what would a few more dollars be to defend the city. It makes sense to me to fight it in court. It looks like to me the city has some incompetent, worthless, lazy lawyers on retainer milking the taxpayers while they sit on their rear working on presentations with crayons and markers. Just my opinion.

    I could possibly see a judge saying well sick time really isn’t a benefit and is really intended for use as such and really the employer has lost productivity because of this and sick time is unplanned time taken off at the employers expense. Vacation time I could see as a benefit where you are taking time off with pay and you and your employer know what hours you have for vacation.

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  3. Yes, I noticed you hadn’t written about Monday’s Council meeting. Yes, I’m outraged about many of the items on the agenda. The public is clueless and has a short memory. The Council does not represent the majority of the citizens. This time they are responding to 70 employees out of 600+. Only 250 people were interviewed while compiling the B/N Advantage program. Only 2,000 people were interviewed for a COMPREHENSIVE Plan affecting the entire population and direction of Bloomington for the next 25 years. The Council does not have the fortitude to look out for the best interest of the City. The Council will not make budget cuts except those that have a NEGATIVE effect on the citizens. They still haven’t put the brakes on spending. Policies get pushed through by the Council regardless of consequences and without collecting feedback from their constituents. And, it is very difficult to keep up with all the agenda items when they are not published far enough in advance. It is exhausting…

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    1. Ya know, instead of all the pontification from Hales and color photos in the agenda packet, just providing links to the City website would provide the Council with much of the information they need to be better informed about issues. Just the waste in paper, ink and copying time would save LOTS of money for the City. There could be a reduction in the number of employees and pensions.

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  4. Here is an example of the Council;s policy which contributes to loss of tax revenue.

    FY 2014 Major Initiatives: EDC Property Tax Abatement and Incentive Program adopted by Council.
    http://www.cityblm.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=7479

    This information was NOT included in Monday’s packet which may have been of value to provide the Council with some clarity.

    “DEFINED BENEFIT PENSION PLANS
    Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund Plan Descriptions and Provisions:

    Plan Description. The City’s defined benefit pension plan for regular employees (other than those covered by the Police or Firemen’s plans) provides retirement and disability benefits, post retirement increases, and death benefits to plan members and beneficiaries. The City’s plan is affiliated with the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), an agent multiple-employer plan. Benefit provisions are established by statute and may only be changed by the General Assembly of the State of Illinois. IMRF issues a publicly available financial report that includes financial statements and required supplementary information for the plan as a whole, but not for individual employers. That report may be obtained on-line at http://www.imrf.org.

    IMRF provides two tiers of pension benefits. Employees hired prior to January 1, 2011, are eligible for Tier 1 benefits. For Tier 1 employees, pension benefits vest after eight years of service. Participating members who retire at age 55 (reduced benefits) or after age 60 (full benefits) with eight years of credited service are entitled to an annual retirement benefit, payable monthly for life, in an amount equal to 1 2/3% of their final rate of earnings, for each year of credited service up to 15 years, and 2% for each year thereafter.

    Employees hired on or after January 1, 2011, are eligible for Tier 2 benefits. For Tier 2 employees, pension benefits vest after 10 years of service. Participating members who retire at age 62 (reduced benefits) or after age 67 (full benefits) with 10 years of credited service are entitled to an annual retirement benefit, payable monthly for life, in an amount equal to 1 2/3% of their final rate of earnings, for each year of credited service up to 15 years, and 2% for each year thereafter.”
    http://www.cityblm.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=7479 Pg. 59

    Here are two original memos from IMRF–again proving clarity.

    https://www.imrf.org/en/publications-and-archive/general-memos/2003-general-memos/general-memo-505

    https://www.imrf.org/en/publications-and-archive/general-memos/2011-general-memos/general-memo-620

    Consent Agenda 7G from February 9, 2015 would also have added perspective to the history of pension spiking.

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  5. Correct me if I’m wrong. The City’s sick leave buy back allows for the employee to “bank” their sick leave into a Retirement Health Savings Plan. It is my understanding these RHS plans are for PRE-TAX contributions (see below) to a Health Savings Account, AND collect interest. So, if the RHS are reported as earnings during the 12 months prior to retirement (spiking) as it appears to be, the earnings include interest payments and un-taxed income. So, it seems taxpayers are being screwed twice.

    “April 11, 2003
    The IMRF Board of Trustees recently amended the IMRF definition of earnings to provide an employer option for reporting compensation directed into a Retirement Health Savings Plan. Contributions to a Retirement Health Savings Plan are not included as IMRF earnings, and therefore not reportable to IMRF, unless the employer’s governing body adopts a resolution making that compensation reportable.

    Retirement Health Savings Plans are employer-sponsored health benefit savings vehicles that allow pre-tax savings for the cost of medical expenses (health insurance premiums, co-pays, prescription costs, etc.) after retirement.”

    https://www.imrf.org/en/publications-and-archive/general-memos/2003-general-memos/general-memo-505

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      1. Non-union employees are given the same benefits as union employees “to be fair” and retain the “best and brightest.”

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