October 28, 2009

GOP treasurer hopeful bucks party on GASB 45

The Republican city treasurer candidate vowed “to fight tooth and nail” to stop proposals from tapping excess pension money to pay for the health care of municipal retirees -- a plan promoted most strongly by a GOP city councilor.
Treasurer hopeful Rose Parenti, who owns Computer Development Systems, is angling to knock out incumbent Democratic Treasurer Bill Veits, who has held the part-time office since 2007.
Veits bucked the city unions this year when he voted to look into the idea more deeply after a special panel examined the concept.
The treasurer, who earns $4,000 annually, oversees a professional staff at City Hall and serves as a trustee for the city’s retirement funds, which have $477 million socked away.
That’s about $100 million more than actuaries say the city will need to pay anticipated costs in the decades to come.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne, a first-term Republican, has been the loudest voice in favor of tapping the extra money to cover retiree health care, a potentially budget-busting item that the city has only begun to squirrel away money for.
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko has estimated that using excess pension cash for the health care instead of tapping taxpayers would save $1.8 million annually without risking anyone’s pension payments.
A special city panel created to investigate decided in March on a 4-3 vote not to pursue the idea, however, until the financial markets settled down and the risks could be figured more accurately.
Veits was one of the three members who sought to explore the idea more fully, along with Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski and T.J. Barnes, the chair of the city’s Retirement Board. Barnes is also the city Republican Party chair.
Four union-affiliated members appointed by Mayor Art Ward voted to kill the proposal.
Parenti said she believes it is “extremely important to keep the pension over-funded.”
“I would hate to see the burden of increased taxes passed onto” residents and future generations “should the fund be compromised,” Parenti said.
Supporters of the idea pointed out taxpayers are on the hook for retirees’ health care costs so they’ll pay one way or another.
They also argue that federal law requires the city leave a significant cushion if it does tap into excess pension cash in order to deal with any market reversals.
Though Parenti is a newcomer to running for office, she has been involved with the city GOP for years.
Veits is a self-employed enrolled agent and income tax specialist with a business in Southington who’s been helping people do taxes for 29 years.
He is also the long-time chairman of the city’s Planning Commission.
Veits took over the treasurer’s job after former Treasurer Patti Ewen opted not to seek a ninth term. He easily defeated Republican Mark Anderson to claim the post in 2007.
In 1981, Parenti started Computer Development with her late husband, Rick, in the basement of their Terryville home. She soon moved to Bristol, where the company has grown to occupy its own building on Riverside Avenue.
“I fully understand the importance of being custodian to all monies whether business or personal,” she said. “I know how to tighten the purse strings whenever necessary to remain fiscally responsible.”
Treasurers serve two-year terms. The election is Tuesday, November 3.

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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I give Rose credit for standing firm.
She clearly is against using one time gimmicks to address the problem.
Unnfortunately, others are thinking politically (what is good for me, NOW) and are willing to sacrifice the future.

Anonymous said...

And Missy Alford, what say you?

Concerned Conservative said...

It appears to me that GASB 45 is simply about reporting certain benefits that were not previously reported (per the current standards). That's a great idea.

But Rose is correct in saying that taking away from a fund to pay for something now is bad policy. Concessions are the way to go.

From: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GASB_45
"GASB Statement 45, is an accounting and financial reporting provision requiring government employers to measure and report the liabilities associated with other (than pension) postemployment benefits (or OPEB)"

GASP 45 is about reporting, not transferring funds.

Steve Collins said...

12:35 - Whether you are for or against using excess pension money, it is not a one-time gimmick. It would take enough money out once to make it unnecessary to put $1.8 million into retiree health care EVERY YEAR. If the city doesn't use the excess pension, it is choosing to leave the pension fund with a big surplus while hitting up taxpayers for the health care costs annually.
Reasonable people can disagree on what's best, but it's really not true that taking the course advocated by Barnes and Cockayne is a one-time gimmick.

Steve Collins said...

CC is exactly right.
But the issues raised by GASB 45 sort of force any municipality with any fiscal sense to start planning to cover future costs, something many have not done at all. Bristol's lucky that it had the wisdom long ago to start socking away money for pension payments. Now it's faced with the need to do the same for retiree health care that it's already promised to its workers.
I'm sure you can make a good argument that the benefits offered to city workers are too generous -- Lord knows they're a lot better than mine! -- but they are what they are from a financial planning point of view.

Anonymous said...

The city claims a 8.5 million shortfall, that is almost5 times 1.88 million.
When and where does it stop?

Anonymous said...

To bad Rose didnt get the facts before writing this. Sounds like she is trying to suck up to the unions.

Anonymous said...

Rose,

Stick to fixing computers ,you don't know what your talking about

Anonymous said...

3:39 She has more brains then you so go back to your Burger King job.You need to get the facts.

Anonymous said...

The unions are saving the taxpayer money now, The taxpayer doesn`t put a dime into the Pension Fund. Did the taxpayer no that.

Anonymous said...

3:39

And isn't Kenny Cockayne doing the same thing now?

Anonymous said...

Rose,

your a joke. Your only on here to fill a spot. I bet you didnt even talk to anyone before putting this out.

Anonymous said...

Viets role as head of planning is a good reason to not vote for him.

Look at the results.

Anonymous said...

4:52

And Alford isn't?

Anonymous said...

At least Mrs. Parenti had the decency and courage to let us know where she stands on this issue.

Where are Alford, Ward, Viets?

Where are the council candidates?

Anonymous said...

i don't believe we should take any money from anyone in an economy like this. nothing is for sure in this life and cockayne or barnes can't say that it will always be fully funded. we could have a catastrophic economic meltdown tomorrow and the money could disappear just like that. that fund lost a lot of money last oct. when the economy started going south. it was and is not immune to market fluctuations. this is also something that must be negotiated with the unions whether the citizens of this town like it or not. there's a contract that must be dealt with. you can't just take it because you want it.

one other thing, steve. bristol wasn't smart in socking away the money. it was the investments that were made wisely during those fat years that we had that grew the pension fund.

Anonymous said...

1:22

Go back even further. It was Tom Obrian that convinced the city to get a money manager to handle its pension fund, instead of a local bank.
And the rest is history.

Be interesting to see where we stand when the next report comes in, and also, when we get un UPDATED acturial analysis.

Those that didn't produce the surplus now want to benefit from it.

But thats politics I guess.

Anonymous said...

No it wasn`t Tom o`brian SORRY GET YOUR FACTS. BEFORE YOU SPEAK.

Anonymous said...

6:41

Who was it then?

Anonymous said...

It was started back in the 70`s and it wasn`t Tom

Anonymous said...

Tom was on the Council in the 70's, and if you check, you will find that he was the key mover in that effort.

Anonymous said...

oh sorry it must have been the dems that did it, they do everything in this town so sorry. That`s why we are in the state that we are.