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Author Topic: Fight for Knowledge and Understanding of Royal Oak Pension and Benefit System  (Read 84769 times)

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RORooster

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Re: City Center - Is it really worth it?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2017, 08:30:15 AM »

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Drunken sailors stop spending when they run out of money. Governments don't.

Current city finances indicate we have no business doing this project.
I fail to see the NEED for this project.

Yes, the old adage of you have to spend money to make money does hold water.
This is not an example.

The sun rises and sets on a small portion of 48067.
Watch WROK,  90% or better of the infomercial stream ( non meeting broadcasts)  centers around 48067 and mostly downtown.

Now that they have invaded fly over country ( 48073), we live to regret it. ( Normandy Oaks )
Interesting statistic.  2010 census shows
 48073 = 32,798 residents,
 48067 =24,458 residents
 48073 is 7.4 sq miles,
 48067 is 4.6 sq miles.

Of our Mayor and Cit-com locales , only 2 live in 48073.
I have not looked at DDA, Zoning, Planning etc locales but i suspect they have even less 48073 representation.
It is zero reason to vote/not vote for somebody in the up-coming elections.
Just something to keep in mind.

Novel thought.
Fix the roads.  Not sidewalks or city hall.  Something EVERYBODY needs and uses, including non-residents.

I am still amazed they still pull on the skirt of the 2008 recession for excuse of taxes and millage increase , but fail to lower them and save the increased tax revenue ( home builds ) when times are good. The next slowdown may put us in the final dark hole of no return.

The next thought to ponder is if Beau-Town replaces much of downtown for standard shopping and draw.
Remember, an abatement is not just they don't pay taxes, it also means we as residents get to make up the difference .
 
Resident,

I can't explain why, when I read your post, it really struck a cord. I really got hung up on the two zip code theory. However, something seemed seemed wrong with your theory. For a while I could not put my finger on it but your theory still made sense and I agreed with it. For along time I have been intrested in your well thought out posts. Your theory seemed to revolve around the CITCOM members and their location in the city. Still makes sense. As a past member of city committes I learned the power of city staff and appointed commissioners on the selected committees. We all  understand that all committees are not equal based on money and legislative
 
Then I started to think about the following, and would really appreciate the thoughts of forum members. 
 
1. When you have a strong city manager and a weak Mayor (and city commission) who leads the political, financial, and social agenda?
2. Who is the administrative head of all the administration departments?
3. Who is the city trustee who sits on the DDA based on his appointing himself to the position. (Ex. of weak mayor.)
4. What member heads the retirement/Healthcare committee and litterly has a 3-1 maority over our CITCOM representatives?
5. Who sets the ageda for CITCOM and committees that have responsibilites for financial obligations of the city? (Block grant/ Rehab. Bd. of appeals.

The bottom line answer is :

     Donald E. Johnson
     3051 Winifred
     Wayne, MI  48184

Sorry, I thought we're talking about two zip codes in Royal Oak. Any questions about asking City Managers like Mr. Johnson to live in our city, as he said he would in his contract or do we have to emulate 48184?

Resident,

What can I say...Nothing!
You said it all!

Thank you.

Rooster

RO retailer

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Well, this snow day has given me a chance to sit quietly read, with concentration, what both of you wrote.  Also, had time to analyze these dissertations.  Thank you gentlemen.  I owe both of you giant hugs. 

Its interesting that, back in the 80s and 90s, when downtown was turning into the "Ann Arbor of the East" (yes, that statement was made often) everyone in both zips were happy to say they lived in Royal Oak.  Than the green eyed monster crept in.  The Royal Oak I moved to was a city of history and tradition.  Than the flaming orange eyed monster moved in.  Who?  You guess.

RORooster

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Forum,

During the weekend we all had a chance to see what the City of Royal Oak had planned for the city on its bi-weekly “Monday Night Live” programming agenda. Probably, to nobody's surprise, the pasted together planned program is well suited to the lack of transparency that the city administration requires working their wonders in Room 309. You would think that even they would like to come out into the sunshine for some fresh air. It looks like the administration's strategic plan goal is to place enough items on the consent agenda to utilize the entire alphabet. With 18 items that the administration feels does not warrant open discussion and 5 items that do, must lead a few people shaking their heads.

An item on the consent agenda that should have special interest to all residents is Consent Agenda Item (f): Acceptance of the June 30, 2017, Retirement (Pension) Actuarial Valuation Report. This is the largest taxpayer liability budget item and an item that has the least transparency and a city administration that seems to want to keep it that way. Are they afraid that with an open discussion the public will start to understand and start asking questions about where, and how, their money is being spent? It will be interesting to see if anybody steps forward, especially two sitting commissioners presently on the retirement board, a self-proclaimed longtime board member with special city paid state training on pension management, and a mayor who spent time as an trustee as a board member due to his “in-depth” financial expertise. If there is any top priority item that deserves open discussion I would like to know! Oh, I forgot a splash pad, another useless and unworkable Strategic Plan, Regional bicycle share program, and last but not least an Indigent Defense Policy change that Royal Oak residents have been clamoring for.
 
While it is bizarre that the City Manager, in his preparation of the agenda has placed Item (f) on the consent agenda I’m at a total loss as to the placement of the two Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) reports inconspicuously placed on the Non-Action Items section. Surely, this must be some kind of joke! The prime reason for these GASB reports is to add credence and understanding to the actuarial report. I have always, and still do question the usefulness and understanding of information that is 238 days old? Isn’t now showing the healthcare at a 106.56% over funding after adding $107,971,344 of funds after the February 2017 issuance of bonds? This action of selling bonds, and creating a debt, and then reporting this as a positive contribution to the report is totally misleading. This is tantamount to reporting police or fire contract changes after their expiration and not having to report actual and actuarial long-term costs.
 
Forum, this retirement system has to be reformed and changes made before the system can be sustainable. You are not going to solve the problem with bonds alone. Until you know and understand the impact of employee pension and OPEB costs on a long-term basis the system will continue to crater. Can you honestly continue to see bonds approved that will strap the next to generations having to pick up the tab?
 
The city administrated has demonstrated its total ability to strip the taxpayer of any voice in the funding of bonds. By using city charter loopholes or weaknesses, that must be fixed, the city has used a 45 day waiting period for posting bonding intentions that provide taxpayers the ability to form a citizen group to procure and attain the charter required a number of signatures to place the bond proposal on the ballot for voter approval.

Short of this method, the new direction seems to be an end-around use of the DDA as a funding method resource. What could go wrong? We’ve already forgotten  696 debacles! I’m sure Mr. Harrison and ex-city counsel woman Harrison could add much to the historical background information, especially the longterm harm done to the DDA, city finances, and business property owners.

The mayor, being the imminent mouth-piece and enabler for the administration, especially in his recent brainstorm idea to pass his option to select a DDA member pick to the City Manager who immediately picked himself. Wow, who could have seemed that coming? Seemed to take the breath out of the DDA. Now with DDA Executive Director, a direct report to the city to the City Manager, hand-picked administration members, and member/owner of  “The Royal Oak Bar of Choice” the road to hoe for the administration is much easier to travel. And, once again, the taxpayer can sit back and relax knowing their best interest is being watched over. Great job on the part of the “Commission Cheerleader!”   When the City Manager reaches down with his right hand and he does his ventriloquist role with the dummy on his right and he starts to talk it all looks so normal! Great job guys!

I’m still concerned about one item. If all goes as well as the DDA Attorney suggested, if the City Administrators, City Commissioners, and Mayor are completely satisfied with this contract as stockholders, why do we need to be reminded by the City Manager in footnote (1):

!. LTGO bonds are secured by the full faith and credit of the city.

Didn’t the city attorney explain, not too long ago, that that is the city of a taxpayer who is ultimately responsible for this bond issue if there are problems? It seems that all the shareholders are very confident and secure that “All is well!” This seems to exclude all the taxpayers and residents who, once again were voiceless.” Maybe we’re all dummies!

Good luck tonight with that really tough agenda!

Rooster
 
 

Gladys Kravitz

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Rooster,

Thanks to Commissioner LeVasseur, important consent agenda items are no longer being buried like a dog bone in a yard.  Last night, he requested 3 items to be pulled from the consent agenda for discussion.  Much to the chagrin of the Mayor.   The actuarial report was one of the 3 items and the motion was made to delay discussion and delay report approval until the city Finance Director could be present for questions.  Motion was surprisingly seconded by Commissioner Paruch.

The Mayor implied that Commissioner LeVasseur was potentially grandstanding.  Its not the first time either.  Sadly this notion will be spread by certain club members around town as gospel.  There is a sizable number of residents that have been looking for more of this type of action and accountability, so I hope Commissioner LeVasseur is not discouraged by the Mayor, when it is actually the Mayor himself who is doing the grandstanding.

I am also happy to see the second on this.   At least when tasked with the appointment, Commissioner Paruch took her position seriously and worked to understand the complex issues the board is tasked with.  The same can't be said with one of the recently appointed commissioners to the Retirement Board who has missed 2 of 3 meetings since being appointed.

Look for the actuarial report to be on the next citcom meeting agenda.  And look for the Mayor and City Manager to start thinking twice before trying to bury items on the consent agenda.

Sudo Nimh

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Attempting to provide fiscal clarity to residents is never grandstanding, it's the CC's job.

RORooster

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Attempting to provide fiscal clarity to residents is never grandstanding, it's the CC's job.

Sudo,

You and I both know that "Grandstanding" is the the fake cover of  a dire lack of "Fiscal Knowledge." A recent survey showed that only 34% of elected officials officials had any real exposure, or training, in financial systems. I believe this percentge is extremly high. Citizens ask questions that are completely legitamate and are researched to the best of their abilities. Officials that "Gandstand" don't have a clue about an answer. Those that have an answer don't, due to attempts to cover and conceal answers that would impart knowledge and information to the residents and taxpayers. Knowledge has a tendency to impart strength and wisdom that leads to well thought out decisions.

Rooster
 

RO retailer

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The mayor and a former mayor, Bill Urich, were cut from the same cloth.

resident

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Just found this unrelated article.    The more things change, the more they remain the same.   

I wish there was a full file of Frank Versagi articles.

https://patch.com/michigan/royaloak/bp--from-feb-6-2003-detroit-news-headline-infighting-e75314be95     

resident

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Sorry, i hit enter too quickly.

I searching the Patch for other linked Versagi Voice articles.

Truly amazing stuff.   I watch the time stamps on his offerings and note our now current mayor evolved a tendency to  think out loud too much, showboat, etc.        Bless you Frank. 
I get the sense one

Man do we need another Frank Versagi.  Now more than ever. 

RORooster

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Just found this unrelated article.    The more things change, the more they remain the same.   

I wish there was a full file of Frank Versagi articles.

https://patch.com/michigan/royaloak/bp--from-feb-6-2003-detroit-news-headline-infighting-e75314be95   

Check with Muriel and see if she saved anything for history.
Frank was a good friend that I admired and have deep respect for. He was a sly and deep debator who knew how to get to the bottom of a situation.
Once, over a cup of coffee at Herman's Bakery, he called me "Out spoken to a fault" but he never inferred that I should stop. I miss him and will
never forget him.

Rooster
 

resident

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Rooster.
            Will indeed check with her.
We just dropped off some donate and loan stuff to her .

I find her an amazing woman, and i don't even know her that well.
She laughs often, is very sharp, and is also very candid.  Things i admire.

Everybody i speak to asking of Frank,  says almost the same thing. He was fair.  You may not agree, or care for it if he wrote about you, but he was fair.
Another reminder that i started paying attention around here too late.
I would have loved to chat with him. 
I am a bit proud ( not that it makes me smarter ) but when i was reading the offerings i could find today, i was taken a bit aback of like  observations he had about people.  Not going to name anybody, that is not the point.

I fear if anything like Frank performed came about today, it would be just dismissed as muckraking, when it is the opposite. 
This town is starving for any level of local journalism.
We have article writers and community engagement specialists.
   




RORooster

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The mayor and a former mayor, Bill Urich, were cut from the same cloth.

No, the former mayor did not like driving around Air Force Bases!

Rooster

RO retailer

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he was a spy for the Russians!

Sudo Nimh

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You are right about the Grandstanding Rooster.

I also miss Frank Versagi. We didn't always agree on viewpoints, which is quite alright, but as noted, he was always fair. I thoroughly enjoyed conversing with him and picking his brain.

I have great admiration for Muriel and all the work she has done on the City Museum.

RORooster

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Fight for Knowledge and Understanding of Royal Oak Pension and Benefit System
« on: November 06, 2014, 09:31:05 PM »
•    Quote
________________________________________
“Royal Oak still continues to struggle under a tremendous financial burden that someday, probably sooner than later, will push the city to the financial brink. It is imperative that the residents of this city begin to demand answers to the ever growing and critical legacy crisis in this city. I have studied this system and it never failed to leave me shaking my head and wondering who's running this zoo?  When Retailer says she was part of the system and the learning curve required to understand that the "System" is designed not to be understood. The city administration and pension planners have taken strong steps to suppress the issues and ramifications of our public retirement systems.

The system has a unique ability to raise its ugly head disguised as "symptoms" not as a "Problem." Symptoms such as a library millage, a public safety millage, and the new road mileage are just a few of the symptoms that have surfaced.  The Royal Oak answer, now, is when you don't have money in the general fund you'll need to pass a millage.

The city is being ravaged by the pension and benefits costs. We need to reform the system before Royal Oak is another government institution facing bankruptcy. The pension and benefits "game" must be dragged kicking and screaming out into the sunshine where it belongs. I feel we could learn and benefit from this discussion. Until residents know and understand this system the city is on a scary and dangerous path!”

It really seems that it was just a short while ago that I began this topic. It’s been almost three and a half years ago. It seems that time goes so much faster when you’re constantly swimming upstream. Prior to, and during this time period, the city has approved a five-year public safety millage with a note that they could reassess the situation and probably recommend another five-year extension. Since they have learned to be so proficient and efficient, they were able to make this determination and renewed the millage after only four years.

As planned, by the city administration at the September 12th, 2016 commission meeting, the commission authorized the negotiated sale of pension and OPEB bonds not to exceed $165,000,000. The sale was conducted on January 31, 2017. $20,570,000 of the bonds were directed toward pension bonds and $106,040,000 toward Other Pension Employee Benefits (OPEB). Please note there are two separate groups that make up the Royal Oak workforce. One group makes up the “General employee workgroup” and the “Police and Fire workgroup.”   

We must start to realize that with millions of State, Local, and Federal dollars spent on union issues we are bound to a system that has engulfed our employee centered pension/OPED issues that have cratored our city finances. We must know and realize, that  Royal Oak is a life support system for its employees.and retirees. We must realize that a large part of city employee legacy problems ages goes to local, state and federal union activities to protect and defend employee retirement years. The fact is that this problem, of pension and OPEB financials, has been going on for decades. Now the city of Royal Oak, it's elected officials, administration, and bargaining units have decided that millages and bonding are the solutions to the problem of the legacy issues. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only reform to the system will result in filling the promises and laws written into the state constitution to live up to the promises made to our employees.

 Pension plans should be affordable, sustainable and secure. The security of a pension plan flows from it being affordable and sustainable so that workers do not have to fear future financial crises will undermine their benefit security Pension plans should be sustainable at reasonable budget levels and not consume too much of a jurisdiction’s budget costs in just 10 years, a red flag indicating unsustainable costs. Pension costs should never threaten a jurisdiction’s ability to provide essential services or require taxation levels that reduce economic growth. Unaffordable pension plans are typically seen along with other bad financial management decisions, but because pension costs are opaque and often deferred, typically they are not addressed seriously until there is a fiscal crisis with the threats of reduced services, cuts to education and public safety, default on loans, etc.

Responsible pension management should avoid being any part of a financial crisis. The sustainability of a pension system relies on two mechanisms: government accountability and the balance of taxpayer costs and benefits. Defined benefit pension systems have inherent characteristics that make them difficult to fiscally sustain. First, the time lag between pension plan promises and pay outs gives the pension plan provider a lot of room to “pass the buck.” Second, pension plan providers must unwaveringly pay out pension promises, regardless of market variability, placing a great deal of risk on taxpayers to fill any funding gaps. Third, pension plan providers have a lot of freedom to regulate themselves, sometimes making unreasonable projections about future funding and liabilities and potentially leaving the public with uncertainty around the true cost. In thinking about how to rebuild pension systems, it is important to think long-term in order to continuously support a retirement system.

Sustainability demands that governments use realistic assumptions and make contributions to the plan that will continually provide promised benefits. Indeed, a formal legal commitment to funding required contributions backed with a potential remedy, has provided for local government contributions to hold promise at least to create political pressure for payment of contributions.

If these conditions are met, then pensioners will be secure in their benefits and governments will have predictable and defined costs that make it easier for them
to meet their obligations.

Next, what are the assumption’s that the pension system lives by or will die by?

Rooster
   
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