Monday, July 16, 2007

It's The Pensions, Stupid

If you didn't take a look at the story in today's Star discussing the component of the mayor's proposed 65% increase in the county option income tax to be used to pay for the unfunded pension liability, please do so. The Star gives several examples of retirees of IFD or IPD and their accompanying pensions. Let's take a closer look at those examples.

  • Leroy Callahan, 83, retired from IPD in 1974 after 26 years of service. He is now drawing an annual pension of $33,300.
  • Janet Cotton, 67, retired from IPD in 1999 after 22 years of service. She is drawing an annual pension of $39,900. Her husband, Tom Cotton, 66, retired from IPD in 2006 after 39 years of service. He is now drawing an annual pension of $40,400.
  • Bernard Hanley, 81, retired from IFD in 1969 after 20 years of service. He is now drawing an annual pension of $27,300.
  • David Hanley, 72, retired from IFD in 1980 after 20 years of service. He is now drawing an annual pension of $27,300.
  • Danny Lee, 62, retired from IPD in 1986 after 20 years of service. He is now drawing an annual pension of $27,300.
  • Bob McGrath, 72, retired from IFD in 1997 after 38 years of service. He is now drawing an annual pension of $39,000.
  • Marion Mitchell, 68, retired from IFD in 2006 after 39 years of service. He is now drawing an annual pension of $41,592.

As you can see, these public safety workers often retire with a full pension benefit at a very young age--late 40s or early 50s. Many public safety officers are also able to work other full-time or part-time jobs while they are supposedly working full-time for the taxpayers. In some cases, they actually hold second, full-time government jobs. Some of these retirees are drawing much larger pensions than they ever earned in salary while they worked. Is anyone familiar with a private pension plan which offers generous benefits like these? How could such an unsound actuarial system--one where those contributing could not possibly contribute anywhere close to adequate funds while they are working to support these kinds of pensions--be established? I suppose it doesn't help that we are permitting firefighters and police officers to serve on our city-county council in clear violation of the Indiana Constitution's prohibition on serving in two branches of government at the same time.

It is a complete outrage that these people are drawing pensions they never earned. Did they earn a pension? Yes, but not pensions this large. It is unfair to ask the taxpayers to bail out a pension system so ill-conceived. The taxpayers shouldn't be asked to pay another dime in taxes to bail out this broken system until someone investigates how this system came about and permanent changes are implemented to strip these pension plans of these patently unfair benefits. And we should start by enforcing our Indiana Constitution and throw off the council all firefighters, police officers, and other city-county government employees illegally serving on the council. If these council members had any sense of decency, they would disqualify themselves from voting on any proposed budget or tax ordinances affecting their salaries and pensions.


Wilson46201 said...

I too was astonished at those pensions - do they also get Social Security as well? Sometimes some city employees are not covered by Social Security, sometimes they are...

To be fair, I doubt if those pensions are terribly out of line with any other metropolitan public safety workforce. It's doubtful Indianapolis would have been extraordinarily profligate in setting those pensions...

Gary R. Welsh said...

If they worked other jobs and contributed to social security, they are also drawing social security. There was a certain point a few years ago where state and local employees were required to start paying into social security. Not sure of the exact year. Most of those people on that list are probably drawing about $24,000 in social security benefits annually.

Anonymous said...

There is a darker side to this nonsense.

The pension plan was set up by lugar in his second a wya of silencing the FOP. On that date, they became a largely-Republican union, and havne't changed since.

I can't beleive the Social Security question was asked. This was the principle argument agianst police consolidation put forth by the FOP under that quack VinIe Huber. Social Security was given in one department, not in the other.

It is legitimate to open up the pension issue for future FOP/city contract negotiations. And to change the matrix and other specifics for officeres hired after now.

We woe that to our children. Otherwise, do the math...the current pension bond won't cover the new oblgiations must past 2013.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Here's the problem, Wilson. When I first became involved in the Marion Co. GOP, I was astonished to learn how many of the committee persons were either police or firefighters. During the Hudnut and Goldsmith years, the GOP was very tight with the FOP and the firefighters unions, which usually endorsed the GOP ticket. I think this cozy relationship allowed these pension systems to be skewed in favor of the unions.

Unknown said...

Yeah, those generous pensions are approximately in line with pensions in other metro police forces (I'm not sure about firefighters). They are patterned on military pensions and generally entitle you to a pension of 50% of your salary after working for 20 years. (Although I believe you can't actually draw the pension until you are near retirement age).

By contrast, most state and city workers have a much less generous pension that pays them 33% of their salary after 30 years.

Anonymous said...

If you want to check into something really interesting, look into the many "retirements" that took place during the consolidation where the "retiring" officer was merely rehired in the same job, as a "civilian" drawing both the pension, and the full salary. In short, two pays for one position. It will scare you.
It is not that they should be denied their earned pensions, but why pay twice?

Anonymous said...

What about the federal Hatch Act about public employees be elected to office.
Also PERF is set up where police and fire pensions are based on 20 years of service paying 50% of a 3rd yr office or firefighter. You recieve 2% increases for every year after 20 for a maxzimum of 74% at 32 years. You can now retire at 52 years old and 20 years of service and collect full pensin benefits.

Anonymous said...

About 1979 or 1980, the State had
a pension buy-out of police and fire depts in the state. If the
person agreed to taking $10K or $15K (I'm not sure of the exact
amount) in a lump sum then, they
would convert their pension to the
new system. If the person didn't
convert, they remained in the
"old" system.

There was a full-time Hammond fireman who managed to attend IU Dental School full-time in Indpls while serving at the same time as a fireman 160 miles away, by trading days off and working 48 hours on weekends. The Hammond newspaper had a heyday with those facts when it came to light that the fireman had taken his lump sum as soon as he graduated from dental school and opened his own dental office.

Anonymous said...

Like the military, police service is unique and noble. Officers face increased risk of on-the-job injury from violence while defending us. Driving 8 hrs a day from call-to-call, they are more likely to be injured in a car accident, police officers have higher than normal heart problems attributed to both the physical rigors and stress of the job.

Likewise, it is desireable to encourage a younger police force to protect us. The policeman in his 20's is probably better able to handle the physical anguish of the job...arresting the violent hold-up man, the rapist, or the drug-crazed maniac willing to kill to get away from justice.

After 20 years of protecting us, I say they have earned their pension & deserve medical! If they move on, it creates a vacancy for a younger officer to protect us.

Although experience is perhaps most important when performing these duties, physically fit police officers are best able to perform the rigors of protecting the innocent from the violent predators that are released daily from the jail.

The pensions are well-earned.

It is not ordinary work they do for us. Each call can be the last...after 20 years, they earned a pension.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that people complain about the pensions that public safety officers draw. You can't have it both ways, more cops, better trained cops and then expect them to work for lower wages and a crappy pension. You get what you pay for, and in my opinion, public safety officers are not the place to start scrimping pennies. And if you're going to complain about those who get more than they pay in, etc., etc., don't forget to include Social Security in your rant. Those retiring today, getting COLA increases are drawing out much, much more than they paid in to the system. This whole living longer thing puts strains on retirement/pension systems and we have to come to grips with ALL public pensions, but please spare me the preaching about public safety officers getting "too much" of a pension, or zip your mouth about the need for better/more officers. You can't be ideologically consistent and have it both ways.

Jacob Perry said...

Nice hatchet job Gary.

Thinking back on 9/11, I'm guessing there weren't too many immigration attorneys following those cops and firefighters who were rushing into those burning buildings. I could be wrong on that, just speculating.

My advice to you would be that next time you call 911 to report a crime in your neighborhood (which considering where you live, isn't a rare event) you may want to refrain from giving your name.

There you have it folks: Gary Welsh is against Christians as well as Cops and Firefighters.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Only a person with a self-interest in preserving the overly-generous pension system would draw that conclusion from my post, Scribe.

Jacob Perry said...

I have an interest in defending those who wear the uniform and willingly defend us, nothing more.

This is a sad day for you and this blog, which has long been respected in the Indiana Blogosphere, anti-Christian bigotry aside (which is nothing unusual locally anyway).

$25k a year is overly generous for those who take on the risks of protecting you and I? Is that really the stance you want to take?

Really, really sad. You should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

Gary is right. These pensions are completely out of control. This latest tax increase is just a stop gap measure. We will have to raise taxes again in a few years to cover the costs of the pensions if we don't do something fast to get the costs under control. Scribe, you aren't have as clever as you think you are. This has nothing to do about supporting our public safety workers so stop trying to demagogue this issue. The taxpayers simply can't afford the cost of this current system.

Anonymous said...

This blog had been a favorite of mine to read a little different perspective, and or point of view. Lately that has changed and it's like Rosie O'Donnell has become the editor. At least we know the agenda of Wilson and TDW but I'm surprised at Advance Indiana.

Those numbers are low for anyone trying to live after retirement on a public servants salary. I am against retiring then being hired back at an exorbitant salary but that seems to be Frank Anderson's doing. PERF that I am under has a 24,000 salary cap.

Gary, maybe you need a relaxing vacation and rethink some of the hostility.

Anonymous said...

Since I am a firefighter and am planning to retire soon, i just hope you people realize what firefighters and police officers go through. I have have had burn hands, ears, blistered knees crawling aroung a burning house trying to find people trapped inside. that's not including the enormous amounts of smoke I have inhaled into my lungs just to try and save someone else's property or life. The small amount that I will get for my pension should be enough to take care of me but with paying for my health care after retirement half of what I may get has to go to helath insurance. The same goes for my police brothers who get spit on and deal with crack/meth heads daily. I find it hard to believe that you are trying to make our pensions an issue. Next time your home is on fire or you need a poice officer think about it.

Jacob Perry said...

Scribe, you aren't have as clever as you think you are.

Anon 11:32, that's the only part of your post you got right.

Anonymous said...

LEO here. Don't forget the difference in the pensions. There is the 1953 and the 1977 pensions. The old one is the one thats killing the city because it is the cities alone and most of the people on it are now collecting and not contributing anymore. The new PERF helped offset some of those problems. These pensions are built to give fire and police peace of mind. Police and Fire are not supposed to worry about who takes care of them and their families if they are injured doing their job. These jobs are dangerous (period). Do you really want a cop or fireman to 2nd guess if he should or shouldn't at least try to help. It's easy for the single man but those with family may hesitate. Police and fire also suffer more injuries and usually retire dinged up from service. Not to mention the silent killer of stress which is getting a closer look at every year. Police and fire learn to ramp up and dump adrenaline because of their type of work and as you get older this takes a toll on the body. It isn't a one time injury so no one used to care. I myself have had 4 crashes, 23 stitches, 6 ribs cracked, and a few pints of blood spilled. I know many officers that have had more. These pensions are made for rough men doing rough work. We have 90 sick days a year that we usually don't use because we know we may need them for that time we really break hard. Think about that while your counting your pennies.

Anonymous said...

It seems like folks think that only lawyers and doctors should be "rich." Sorry, but I don't buy that. Anymore, other lines of work seem to require more and more demands than in the past. Nursing seems to have gotten their wages in line with what the job demands. Police officers are more likely to be sued more and more in the coming years. Law enforcement is getting so bad, I will do my best to steer my kids totally away from that job. There is no reason to put up with the crap you have to deal with. More and more I see cops choosing re-active police work instead of pro-active. Unless they actually see a crime being committed, they do nothing. More and more flat out refuse to even "play the game" or "play the system" where you just stop someone on the sidewalk and say "Hey, do you care if I talk to you?" or something like that. Playing the game has been helpful in getting some nasty folks off the street. Those folks are now going to be staying on the street. The demands for cops to be cops and social workers is just too much. As far as the off-duty pay, I don't see this any different than any other job. A lawyer or doctor might work 80 hours a week starting out, but they are usually making good money or at least have the ability to earn some real good money. I have learned to be frugal on my poor police wage (I don't work for a big department so I don't get a take home car. I am not covered under insurance if I work off-duty, so I don't do that.). That being said, I am hoping that one day I can tell them to take that badge and shove it. I have no desire to work for Indy metro. I see the crap those folks put up with on a daily basis. If I were young and on metro, I would be looking toward Carmel, state police, etc. and let the cesspools continue their meltdown. Ghetto law enforcement is the only reason most of us are allowed to live a decent life here in the US. They get paid ok, especially for the hours worked. While I know the typical response is "They knew the pay and job starting, so they need to stop complaining." I have to say I agree to a point. Most folks are geared toward getting on job and staying there. Law enforcement is like that, but changing. The era of generational policing will eventually come to an end. Even if my kids become cops, I will do whatever I can to steer them away from major city law enforcement. Why deal with layabouts and bums all day when you can work in nicer areas for almost the same money? Go ahead and keep bashing cops and their horrible $26K/year retirement. This will help me prove my point about law enforcement becoming a lose-lose career choice.

Anonymous said...

-A few points:

1. Police & Fire service is high-stress and dangerous.

2. If you want someone with the courage and ability to perform the service, then you must compensate them fairly.

3. If you want a fireman to save your baby inside a burning building, that fireman better know that if he is disabled when the floor collapses, he & his family will be taken care of. If you want a policeman to take on a crazed maniac so that you may be saved and risk throwing a disk the policeman's back, or getting a broken bone, then he must know he & his family will be taken care of.

4. Do you want an experienced person to respond and make good decisions based on training & experience? Then he must know when his career is over, the fireman or policeman & their family will be taken care of.

5. Just how much chance to save us will these heros take, if they know their efforts may cause them disability and they'll lose their home & be in bancruptcy? -I dare say they'd stand back & play it safe.

After 20 years, they deserve their pension & medical coverage.

Jacob Perry said...

To the retired firefighter and current LEO, thank you for your service. You are entitled to every penny (if not more) you receive from us.

There are still quite a few of us who appreciate what you do in this community.

Anonymous said...

Indiana's PERF really is not that great...take a look at Florida. Most cities an officer can retire after 20yrs at 67% of base and start drawing the pension up on retirement. Indiana it is 50% at 20yrs and you cannot draw till you are 52yoa. At approx 27yrs in Florida they can retire at 83% of the base pay..The reason the 53 pension fund in Indiana is under funded is because the the politicians dipped into the pension fund for years(they cannnot do that with the 77 fund)..and never paid back the money into the fund...the 77 fund is fine....So why don't you get off the backs of the Policeman and Fireman..because they are breaking their backs for you everday....If you want to get upset about something how about the money the professional athletes are pulling down...Dwight Freny 72million over 5yrs..playing in a stadium we are all paying for...and don't forget about the CEO's and their outlandish salaries....Think about it!!!

Gary R. Welsh said...

You might want to check out the Star's database disclosing how much our public safety officers are being paid. I don't want to hear another one of them complain they are underpaid, not even taking into account the fact that many have take home cars they use for personal use and private security jobs. I see many of these people earning $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 and even more than $80,000 a year who have other full time jobs or businesses. Hell, the chief of police, Mike Spears, has a high-paying job working security for the Colts on the side. I respect the work our public safety workers do, but I'm not going to look the other way at all that is wrong within their operations. They are the biggest part of the city budget. If you are unwilling to scrutinize what's happening there, then you may as well bend over and take a lot more of what everyone is up in arms about--skyrocketing taxes. You can't get the budget under control unless you tackle the public safety budgets.

Anonymous said...

I used to like this Blog...but after your post about the pensions I will not be back....and I hope that Indy U removes your link from its page...F.O.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Scribe, anon, whatever you're calling yourself these day, you are going to be outed by name. Are you prepared? I understand you're trying to do the dirty work of Eric Miller and Micah Clark, but you're doing a pretty poor job at that.

Anonymous said...

FYI, Gary, officers from the former IPD do not pay into Social Security but do pay into Medicaid. The only way these people receive Social Security benefits for retirement is if they work other jobs that do pay into Social Security, and even then they won't see much, if any, of it because of the money they receive in pensions.

While people like Janet and Tom Cotton might have a comfortable retirement, note that health care for retired police and firefighters is available but takes a SIGNIFICANT portion of those pensions. And the MO of the past three mayors (at least) has been to find ways to increase police compensation that does not increase that base pay, so the retirees get minimal to no increase.

I'll not deny that police officers and firefighters make a decent income, but would YOU do what they have to do every day for that kind of pay?

Just setting some facts straight and giving you some points to ponder.

Jacob Perry said...

Don't you worry Gary, one thing you'll never get from me is an anonymous post. Never.

Just because it seems to bug you, I've never met Micah Clark and have no connection at all to Eric Miller (haven't spoken to him in probably ten years). I'm not a big fan of Miller's, and have stated so publicly.

Good luck outing me, as there are maybe two people besides my wife who know my identity, and believe me they are no fans of yours either.

Besides, are you admitting that I'm getting under your skin a bit?

Don't like being called out from your high and mighty perch?

Good luck digging yourself from this hole. You can Christian bash all you want, plenty of company there. But disgracefully attacking our community public safety officers is another thing altogether. You may not recover from this, though surely the Rainbow Brigade will come to your rescue.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Scribe writes, "one thing you'll never get from me is an anonymous post. Never" as he writes an anonymous post. Shall we say "hypocrite" ala Eric Miller and Micah Clark. You call me a "Christian basher", presuming the persons I criticize using my real identity are adhering to the Christian faith. I think a lot of the readers here would think you presume a little too much in this case.

Anonymous said...

Gary, Scribe is Robert Croddy, the financial consultant who lives out in Warren Township and dropped out of the 7th District Congressional race after he failed to garner any support. He later tried to become Marion Co. GOP chairman and got nowhere.

Jacob Perry said...

I'm Bob Croddy? Seriously, that has to be the funniest think I've had anyone tell me for quite some time. Especially considering I haven't exactly spared poor Bob on my blog in the past.

But I'm flattered that you guys are concerned enough to try and decipher my identity.

BTW Gary, way to try and deflect from the real issue, which was your baseless attack against our LEO's and firefighters.

And no, many readers are well aware of your reputation for anti-Christian bigotry. While your hatred and spewed venom doesn't quite rise to the levels earned by the true hypocrites over at and pseudoblog TDW, you've got a well earned rep in your own right.

Just because I (and most Christians, particularly those who have actually read Scripture) believe homosexuality is a sin, doesn't make me a bigot or a hypocrite. But your lame attempts to paint us as such has become quite superficial.

Again, not a big supporter of Miller and I don't know Clark, but we're not all the same, anymore than I expect you watch "Queer Eye" and listen to Barry Manilow all of the time.

Again, I'm flattered by all of the interest in my identity, it must mean I'm hitting the mark somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't wait for my husband to hit his 20 year mark and retire. After an interminable 2 year wait, we can collect that huge pension! We'll be rich!! I'm going to use 20 dollar bils as toilet paper!! I'm going to light up a big fat cigar with a hundred!
You cheap, want to be hand held for nothing hoosiers are getting a good deal. The pension under perf isn't that great. The police and fire work holidays and weekends for no extra pay. The police are routinely made to work overtime they are not paid for, but are made to take as trade days. If you are involved in a police action shooting, you are treated like a criminal and given an indictment for homicide and made to go to grand jury. I will soon be paying for my husband to go back to school. Like the former firefighter who traded time with coworkers, what he does on his own time is his business. Then, after 20 years of this crappy job, he can work a second job so we can afford a roof over our heads. The social security he will pay into in his second career will not be fully paid out to him, it will be greatly reduced since he will be in perf. If he does not work a second career, he will get very little social security for the part time jobs he works now.
The taxpayers need to decide. Do you want a professional police force or not? If not, have the mayor dissolve the force and everyone can fend for himself. The place to cut budgets is not on the backs of the people who put their lives on the line to protect you. Start with tax abatements for Bart's buddies. Cancel the million dollar printing contract Jackie Nytes has with the city. Talk about should be illegal to be on the CCC. Police and fire are citizens. It is not illegal for them to be on the CCC or to vote on matters that concern them. They are there to represent their voters. And I know that Lincoln Plowman is doing what he thinks is best for the citizens of Indy.
BTW, the police don't support the tax increases. Even with the raises it is supposed to support, the police will be bringing home even less money than before.

Jacob Perry said...

Anon, with one or two exceptions, your anger should be directed squarely at Gary. He is the one taking the indefensible position that these pensions are outrageous.

The rest of us completely respect and appreciate what these men and women in uniform do for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Some of you have no idea what you are talking about. The real "pension problem" is elected people prior to 1977 took the money out of this fund and used it for other city services or simply did not contribute the city's share. That's why there is a problem now. It is now short any where from $4-$7 million dollars. And ever since then no mayor including peterson will do what it takes to get it back on its feet. Several ideas have been given to him and the council to help fix it. So pick who is worse the people who mis-spent the money or didn't contribute to it or the people who refuse to fix the problem. Don't blame the policemen and firemen for protecting and serving you for several years. Blame the elected people you voted into office who will not fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

Some of you have no idea what you are talking about. The real "pension problem" is elected people prior to 1977 took the money out of this fund and used it for other city services or simply did not contribute the city's share. That's why there is a problem now. It is now short any where from $4-$7 million dollars. And ever since then no mayor including peterson will do what it takes to get it back on its feet. Several ideas have been given to him and the council to help fix it. So pick who is worse the people who mis-spent the money or didn't contribute to it or the people who refuse to fix the problem. Don't blame the policemen and firemen for protecting and serving you for several years. Blame the elected people you voted into office who will not fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

Add some 0's to the cost for the 1953 pension. It should be $400-$700 million dollars underfunded. Now its right.

Anonymous said...

This is retired DET. STEVE RENDLEMAN, MARION COUNTY SHERIFF, I was in traffic accident on 6/31/2005. My back injury forced an end to 31 years of service to this county. I payed into my pension for 31 years. So now i am retired in line of duty with pain every day that no med operation can fix, I can not walk, with out pain, play golf or hunt any more. At 54 yoa my career is over.I asak any one who thinks that this is too much that I get 74% of my last year pay for permanet injury, I will trade them places to have my life back again 7/19/2007

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your condition, Detective. However 74% is
too much it seems to me. I
am just wondering....does
a soldier who is wounded in
combat suffering for the rest
of his life gets 74%?

Donice Smith said...

I can not believe people are complaining about Police and Firfighters drawing their pension after 20 years or more of service. They had to work other jobs just to support their families because the pay was not enough to support a family. They paid into their own retirements. The firefighters have a lot of heath issues later on in life because of all of the smoke that they have taken into their lungs. They usually are not able to draw pensions from their 2nd jobs because they are usually working part time jobs with no benefits. They have had to work at other jobs in order to get Social Security 50% of the pay is certainly not that much it is not as much as what most people receive from factory jobs that have been funded by the government.
If anything people should be saying how wonderful it is that these people have risked their lifes for you to be able to sleep peacefully at night while they were watching out for your safty.