« | »

RI Town Asks Retirees For Some Money Back

From an outraged New York Times:

City in Rhode Island Asks Retirees to Sacrifice

By ABBY GOODNOUGH
Published: July 19, 2011

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — The retirees came from near and far, gathering in a muggy auditorium here to listen to an urgent pitch: give back a big chunk of your pension or risk losing it all.

This city of 19,000 is broke and headed for bankruptcy, partly because it has promised retired police and firefighters millions of dollars in pensions and benefits that it cannot begin to afford.

The public sector unions are to largely to blame, of course. But so is the demographics of Central Falls. Which is now largely populated by ‘the poor’ and illegal aliens. Few of whom pay taxes.

By the way, lest we forget, Central Falls is the town that last year fired all of its public school teachers – and then rehired them again under a (slightly) better deal.

And so Robert G. Flanders Jr., a state-appointed receiver who is trying to right the city’s finances, found himself on the stage at Central Falls High School on Tuesday, asking retirees to help solve “a horrible dilemma” by giving up a significant part of what they had always assumed was untouchable income…

By way of warning, he pointed to the example of Prichard, Ala., which stopped paying retirees in 2009 after its pension fund ran out of money.

Under Mr. Flanders’s plan, which he calls The Big Ask, some retirees would lose almost half their benefits, with the goal of cutting a total $2.5 million a year in retiree costs. Someone who retired at 55 after 30 years on the job, for example, would see his pension shrink to $21,217 a year, from $40,037.

Well, it is probably better to call this "The Big Ask" rather than The Half Ask." By the way, note that we are not told what the typical pensions are. If they are like most public sector union pensions, we suspect they tend to be hirer than $40,000 a year.

No recipients, including widows of retirees, would see their pensions cut by more than half or to less than $10,000 a year, said Mr. Flanders, a retired Rhode Island Supreme Court justice. The 141 retirees will have to vote on the proposal in the coming weeks, and he pressed them to accept it, saying bankruptcy could lead to “even more drastic” changes.

The city’s annual budget is about $17 million, and it has an operating deficit of about $5 million

Which is practically a microcosm of our nation’s deficit situation. Why don’t the city fathers just borrow the difference from China?

But the initial response suggested it would be no easy sell. Why should they be punished for the city’s financial missteps over the years, some retirees asked? Why not keep raising taxes instead?

“Where is the fairness?” said Michael Long, a retired police sergeant who lives in Attleboro, Mass. Mr. Long, 54, said he would rather “take our chances” and let the city file for bankruptcy, drawing hearty applause from the crowd…

Mr. Long apparently retired in his early fifties, if not earlier. Where is the "fairness" there?

Like many other municipal workers around the country, public safety employees in Central Falls do not pay into Social Security and thus get no Social Security benefits after retirement, a point that several complained about at the meeting.

So what? They are far better off than most of us who will pay in to Social Security all of our lives and most likely collect nothing. Either because we are deemed to be ‘too rich’ or because the ‘lockbox’ will be found to be bare.

Although many of the retirees were elderly, some in the crowd were still in their 40s and 50s, people who were allowed to retire early under the city’s rules.

Where were the complaints when city workers were retiring with a pension in their forties

Under Mr. Flanders’ plan, firefighters and police officers would generally have to work until age 60. The current system allows them to retire after 20 years of service, no matter how old they are. The plan would allow early retirements, but with smaller pensions.

Welcome back to reality, Central Falls.

But this battle is going to be fought all across the country in the coming years. The Greece is hitting the fan.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, July 21st, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “RI Town Asks Retirees For Some Money Back”

  1. So, when are the recall elections in Rhode Island going to take place? This is obviously an evil tea party plot against innocent public sector unions and retirees because, as we all know, conservatives hate old people.

  2. proreason

    Too bad Central Falls doesn’t have a printing press.

    Then the problem could be passed onto somebody else.

    That’s the responsible way to handle something like this, isn’t it?

    Now, if I were one of those retirees, I would demand that my pension be INCREASED. As we’ve been told many times, there are plenty of rich people hoarding their wealth. Make them pay. Why should I suffer. Make somebody else suffer, Central Falls.

    And I don’t know the racial makeup of Central Falls, but I think we will soon know. If the state flies to the rescue, or even better, the US Department of Injustice, then we will know for sure that it has a minority population.


« Front Page | To Top
« | »