Buying Better Pensions One Tax at a Time

…so far.

That’s right, the local hero unions dropped $10,000 each to try to help sell you on raising your taxes. As always we have to stop and ask “why?”.

Measure S - Hero Donations
It’s a drop in the bucket for how much they’ll get in return

It can’t be to fix the roads because the unions don’t care about your roads or infrastructure as most of their members don’t live in Fullerton. If they DID care about such things they wouldn’t act like mercenaries demanding unsustainable pay, playing cities against each other, while watching your city crumble.

So why did each hero union drop $10k? Because, as we’ve been saying for some time now, Measure S is just a pension tax. Allow me to illustrate the problem with our budget USING the budget.

This is the oldest budget I can find online currently and it’s from 2004-05. I’ve added the percentages in total dollars. Remember, this is from 15 years ago.

2004-05 Budget Breakdown
Follow the money…

And THIS is from this year’s budget. I’ve added the percentages to correspond to the previous example.

2019-20 Budget Breakdown
Lookie where all of the money goes…

Do you see the issue?

In the 15 years between these budgets, the budget TOTAL has gone up by over $20,000,000 (20 Million) and in that same amount of time the Police/Fire budgets have gone from consuming 26% of the budget to now consuming 37% of it.

That’s NOT just the General Fund. That’s the entire budget – all special taxes, grants, all of it.

Right there in plain math, that is where your money for roads & infrastructure went.

It should surprise precisely nobody that the city is demanding more money for infrastructure considering that they’ve been systematically cutting it for decades to give it away in payroll and pensions.

Now this is important: The total budget increased by 11.71% over fifteen years.

An 11% increase in the total size of the pie and still the heroes ate an additional 11% MORE (a larger slice) of the budget for a growth of $25Million+ in Public Safety spending over those 15 years.

It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out what’s happening here and why it might be a problem. This is not an issue of revenue. Fullerton takes in more tax revenue than it ever has in the city’s entire history. Every single new dollar that came in from your sales and property taxes, every single one, went straight to public safety salaries, benefits and pensions. It went to fund their outdated and ridiculous service models / toys (such as using a ladder truck to respond to every third passed out drunk or rolling 6 police cars up on every DUI).

And there you have it. This is why our roads suck and our pipes are bursting. This is why our water rates went up and will continue to go up. And yes, this is why the heroes dropped $20,000, so far, into trying to convince you to tax yourselves and your neighbors more. It’s also why the same types of people get endorsed by Police and Fire Unions year after year. The bought and paid for candidates will always make sure the heroes have their lifted trucks and river toys before you have safe roads.

There is no such thing as enough when it comes to taking your money and the return on investment for the unions here is enormous. This isn’t about bias, union hating, or “anarchy” as Ahmad Zahra likes to pretend. This is about simple math – the kind Jesus Silva claims to have taught but refuses to understand. Just look at the city’s own numbers.

26 Replies to “Buying Better Pensions One Tax at a Time”

  1. “cutting it for decades to give it away in payroll and pensions.”

    So, are we paying above market rate in total compensation for police/fire? Below? What’s the wage elasticity of supply?

    That’s what always seems to go missing from the analysis.

    Fullerton competes for police/fire employees with other cities.

    1. Elastic and supply formulas do not matter when there is not enough money to pay for “market value” compensation. The obvious corruption and historical mismanagement of funds is staring back at us on paper. Simply put, more money is going out than coming in. If the city doesn’t make drastic payroll cuts, the city budget will continue on a path to insolvency/bankruptcy.

      1. “Elastic and supply formulas do not matter when there is not enough money to pay for “market value” compensation […] Simply put, more money is going out than coming in. If the city doesn’t make drastic payroll cuts, the city budget will continue on a path to insolvency/bankruptcy.”

        All things being equal. But they are asking for a tax increase so all things are not equal.

        But wage elasticity always matters. If you cannot pay the market rate you either won’t get the labor or you will get cut rate labor. Or you have to do something completely different to accomplish the same goal.

        1. “Market rate”?

          There is no “market” here. You can’t choose who comes to put out a fire at your house or which police agency to call to fill out a report 90 minutes later when a crackhead breaks into your home.

          The government licenses people to do these jobs, tells us how and where they can do these jobs, tells us how we can and cannot negotiate with them, tells us what promises from decades ago we’re bound to and and and and and.

          This is the antithesis of a market. This is regulatory capture mixed with a model based solely on monopolies. In the private sector the shit the Unions do that you’re calling “market forces” would catch RICO charges.

          1. Of course there is a market. It may not be your ideal of a free market (there aren’t any, anywhere) but it is a market.

            The market is every city in driving distance that the potential employee is willing to move to take a job.

            So it follows that what a given city is going to be willing to pay employees is a range affected by all of the other cities in the employment market.

            Unions, RICO blah blah. It’s a market. Try to pay less than the market will bear and the only cops or firemen you’ll have here are the ones that no one else will take.

            If you want to make an argument for cuts you just need to show that we’re paying above market rate, or that the same work can be done with a smaller labor force.

            Otherwise you’re just blowing smoke.

            1. We are blowing smoke up my own ass I sometimes start coughing when our head is stuck up there. Which is all the time. Dr. Schwarzman says I have an anal fixation, but we’re not quite sure anymore that Dr. Schwarzman is real.

            2. This is perhaps the most twisted and moronic argument ever written on this board. It’s sad to see someone who is so blinded by ideology and selfishness that they try to defend the indefensible. Abolish police and fire unions and this problem resolves quickly. Unfortunately, cities are going to have to be driven into bankruptcy before the courts will force reductions in benefits that were never actually earned or funded. It will happen but nobody knows exactly when. Ruthless and greedy Police and fire unions and scared and stupid politicians get 100% of blame.

              1. Hey, remember when the socialist tried to use capitalism to explain state employee wages?

                Ah, controlling the means of production. Good times.

                1. I resemble that remark. And by resemble I mean our head is firmly buried in my lower colon and it doesn’t come out as easy as it went in. Dr. Schwarzman say we need to get out more, but I’m not so sure. We keep telling us that maybe Dr. Scharwzman is a schizophrenic delusion, but I just don’t know.

              2. “This is perhaps the most twisted and moronic argument ever written on this board.”

                It was a rational argument, based on actual economics. So if you’re saying it’s out of the ordinary here, you’re right in that aspect.

                “Abolishing unions” in our city which you don’t say how you’re going to do since it’s costly and most ways to do it are illegal, wouldn’t change the prevailing wage because you compete for employees with neighboring cities.

                You can hate the reality of public sector unions all you want, doesn’t change anything. You don’t have a plan. You just have grievances and political opinions.

                Which leaves you with no path forward.

        2. Organized Crime Police Unions hired the lawfirm Lackie, Dammierer & McGill to intimidate, threaten and extort higher wages and pension benefits for the “heroes”. LDM actually committed REAL CRIMES in carrying out the will of their “clients”. Your “wage elasticity” comment is stupid and just another attempt to defer, deflect and defend the criminal actions of the police unions and their negotiators to use ANY MEANS NECESSARY to get MORE EVERYTHING for themselves at the expense of EVERYONE ELSE.

    2. So just because other cities grossly overpay for their Heroes Fullerton should as well? How is it that Placentia was able to start a new fire department with private paramedics and they’re saving millions of dollars every year? The fire and police union goons have always colluded to artificially inflate their pay and benefits in a never ending game arms race. Either Fullerton changes the service model or the parasite kills its host.

  2. If you believe the on-line inflation calculators, the inflation rate for 2004 to 2019 was around 35%, while the TOTAL Fullerton budget increased by just under 12%. So obviously things needed to be either cut or general pay increases deferred. However, the police/fire (“public safety”) costs increased by over 56% in the same period. That’s 19% over the inflation rate. And don’t we have a relatively younger police force than we had in 2004-2005, which should equate to a lower average police pay?

    1. Don’t try to use logic with the Heroes, City Council and idiots like Hogerhuis. It won’t work because their selfish, pea-sized brains can’t comprehend. They are motivated by greed and lust which have no logic.

    1. It’s Hogerhuis, and if you cut the total compensation, you have to expect the “best” that you disapprove of to be worse.

      1. Logic 101used in a meaningless, off topic way as usual. Are you retarded? Fullerton is on the road to bankruptcy. Employees making as much or more money in overtime than their base salary is a scam and stealing from taxpayers. Government employees should to transition to a 401k at “best” like the rest of the general population. Stop The corrupt gravy train!

    2. Stop crying about pensions, holy shit… Fullerton has one of the worst in comparison to nearly all cities in California. You don’t want to pay it, the employees will leave. You get new employees, they will leave for more in a year or 2 also. Its simple. You can’t pay safety employees or bad managers salaries? They’ll just cut your library, museum, parks n rec, and public works, the least paid ones saying they are least important. Its not rocket science. Your trashman makes like 30k a year and they balance the budget on them first. They are 2% @ 55. Anaheim was 60k a year and 2.7% @ 55 same position. Now everyone is 2% @ 62. Thats shit. Anyone even stop to think about nonsafety and how your decisions fucked us up? Nope. You think you hurt them by stopping tax increases but you really just hurt your permiting, libraries, infrastructure, youth, adult service and everything else. Your crying about high pensions and disregard for revenue increases hurts the lower paid not the ones managing. You want to change shit? Elect people that can be trusted and get rid of nearly every manager. Make elected officials manage the money appropriately. The city 100% needs more money, you just need to hold people accountable and get rid of the managers that only care about themselves.

      -former employee who left for more money (good riddance huh?)

      1. Glad to be rid of you. pretty soon your kind will take any job you can get. And the streets won’t any worse and the cops won’t kill anybody more.

        BTW, “trashmen” aren’t public employees so you obviously don’t know what your yammering about.

        1. Lol another clueless resident. I can go private and make just as much bud, if I can make money and help the community thats what I like to do. Providing for my family is just more important than you, thats all.

          Here is how I know you know nothing about how fullerton works. MG is contracted, true. Who cleans your bus stops? Who cleans your parks? Who cleans up the downtown? Who cleans the trash in the middle of the street mediums? Thats all in house. I know more about the City than all of you. Try me lol

          You’re also predictable, I knew you’d say glad to be rid of you, so I said it first.

          -former employee who left for more money (good riddance huh?)

      2. “The city 100% needs more money, you just need to hold people accountable…”

        How fucking stupid is that? You related to Hoogerbooger?

        1. Don’t know who that is. You didn’t say anything in your post to answer back so… are you fucking stupid?

          It’s supply and demand. If you’ve ever owned a business its very simply to understand.

          Think of fullerton like a mini market. Anaheim is Albertsons, and the other surroundings are staterbros, vons, luckys, whatever.

          Why would anyone want to work for your mini market if the others pay more, give more, and have more money?

          Again. It’s not rocket science.

  3. In this job market, the supply of jobs available are less than the demand, so you will have people willingly take the job, even if the great benefits and pension plans are cut. I agree that government is top heavy in management, but the unions are expensive, along with automatic yearly raises given without basing it on actual performance plus the pension and benefits package are all unsustainable in the long term. Just about every government entity is facing the pension deficit and are looking into pension reform. The government is too corrupt to get itself out of its financial pitfall.

  4. Thank you for a thought out post. You are definitely correct, its very heavy, there just isn’t enough people that actually do the work. Everyone is just expected to do it all. Annual increases are not guaranteed though, they are negotiated. Fire and PD have the more powerful unions, but who I’m talking about now is everyone else that gets lopped in with them. Permit, code enforcement, museum, libraries, parks n rec, & maintenance. They are no where near the cost of safety in operations, salary, benefits, or pension, but they are attacked first when their is a budget shortfall to make up for them. That’s one of my main reason’s for leaving. They have taken quite a bit from the other employees and frankly most people I know from Fullerton are actively looking to leave and management seems to not really care, they’ll just hire former colleagues chasing a title, friends, or kids from the college exploiting them saying its educational… Some quit and retire because its just too much work. Thats partly because management are all new now, don’t understand the negative impacts of losing the institutional knowledge, and partly because they aren’t actually residents.

    As far as the demand for jobs, public jobs are sort of a niche. Not many people apply for them because they are typically lower paying but the benefits and security is worth the lesser pay. Fullerton is just losing on both ends now. You can blame fire and pd, but the people we elect pass everything. My point is, safety is not what makes a City, but it is crucial. Your actions when you attack them really just hurts everyone including yourself. When people say No on S, they really say no to parks n rec, library, maintenance, permits, and museum staff/services. They just don’t know it yet.

    Can pd and fire get raises out of the general fund? Yes IF YOUR ELECTED COUNCIL LETS THEM. You need to hold them accountable for putting it toward roads and infrastructure and preferably hiring the staff to carry the actual work load.

    In regards to pension reform, local governments haven’t even reaped the full benefits of the 2013 PEPRA reform yet. That forced the change for everyone to 2% @ 62.

    That means if you started work at 22, you worked 40 years with a city at 62 and get to keep 80% of salary. If you make 40k you get to keep 32k a year til you die. You don’t get social security. Now imagine if you don’t start until you’re 30 years old, now you need additional years. Its only good if you pretty much dedicated your entire life to it or make a significant amount more which fullerton doesn’t.

    I’ve said my peace. Cheers!

    1. I 100% agree with you. The police and fire dept. unions are strong. When the economy was doing good over a decade ago, the police & fire dept. unions colluded and negotiated some sweet deals while no one was looking. Now that the cities are unable to balance their budgets, we see where the money is going and they are making out like bandits. I know of some fire captains living in 3,000sq. ft. million dollar houses, while they make more in overtime pay than their base salary. Some of these police officers and firemen are making as much as doctors, their pay scale has become too high to sustain.

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