December 3, 2009

Cockayne urges renewed look at using surprlus pension money

With budget shortfalls looming, spending cuts likely and financial woes socking City Hall at the same time taxpayers are hurting, officials are scrambling to find ways to cope.
Solutions are hard to come by.
But city Councilor Ken Cockayne, a second-term Republican, said one possible answer is to revisit the much-debated plan to tap excess pension money to fill a new trust fund that aims to pay more than $70 million in post-retirement health care costs for municipal employees.
The move would save taxpayers $1.8 million, city officials have calculated, while simultaneously assuring municipal workers that Bristol will make good on its contractual vow to pay for 10 years’ worth of health care after employees retire.
The idea was shot down last winter by a special panel exploring the concept, mostly because city unions feared it would undermine flush pension funds.
“I feel the climate has changed somewhat and the parties involved would be willing to sit down to talk about this,” Cockayne said.
Cockayne called it “a very complicated issue,” but if the city pursues it, tapping the excess pension money “can be beneficial to everyone involved.”
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.
But the special city panel created to investigate it decided on a 4-3 vote not to pursue the idea at least until the financial markets settled down and the risks could be figured more accurately.
Since then, the city’s three pension funds have bounced back up.
They collectively total more than $470 million – and even at the lowest point in the market since last fall’s crash, the pension accounts always had enough money to pay anticipated claims and still have millions left over.
Bristol is one of the few cities in the country that has more than enough money socked away to pay off future pension obligations, the result of more than 30 years of investments.
Cockayne and other supporters of tapping some of the excess argue that creating a health benefits fund would make it possible to pay retirees’ health care without hitting up taxpayers for more money.
In fact, if the new fund was flush, the city could also stop paying out nearly $2 million annually for retirees’ health care. The fund could pick that up, supporters said, and the city would no longer have to come up with the cash each year.
That would reduce the pressure to raise property taxes or cut services, officials said.
But city unions argue that moving forward could jeopardize the pension funds. Some union officials have admitted privately they might agree with the change as long as employees get some additional benefits in return for taking the chance.
Plus, they point out, employees chipped in some of the money that made the pension funds flush to begin with.
It’s not clear what will happen next, if anything, but Cockayne said the issue deserves to be reexamined.

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

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ken, why not be a man and address the problem?

Or is that too hard?

Anonymous said...

Ken wake up we need layoffs and severe cut backs. Since before the election you been kissing the unions A--. We need real answers not things that wont fly.

Anonymous said...

Ken we tought you looked out for the tax payers what happened. The union got to you.

Anonymous said...

What does Art say about this, Last time took a back seat to this issue.

Anonymous said...

Here he goes again blowing more smoke. He cant produce so he makes noise. Hes already getting ready for the next election. This timehe willo be done in.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see some answers to the questions asked recently regarding cuts (if any), deficit status, plans, etc.

I would think that Cockayne could get that information, and share it, if he realy wanted to.

Anonymous said...

KEN CANT KEEP STEALING MONEY . WE HAVE TO FIX THE PROBLEM.

Anonymous said...

When this was talked about there was 565 million in the funds, the market is still down and the excess money is not as big as some of you people think. There are other ways to fund this with out touching the pension funds, because you could put more of a burden on the tax payer down the road. Don`t rob from Peter to Pay Paul.THIS SOUNDS LIKE BAD REPUBLICAN ECONOMICS!

Anonymous said...

Lets not blame the republicans for Kens stupid ways he is on his own. Ken thinks the party works for him.

Anonymous said...

Ken maybe try another career this onedoesnt suit you.

Anonymous said...

Ken dont quit your day job.

Anonymous said...

WHATS TOM BARNES think of this wack job. GOP needs to sit this guy down or get him some schooling.

Anonymous said...

Ken is way over his head with politics.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mayor Ward! A 2 year old knows what needs to be done! So do it!

Anonymous said...

And this guy wants to be mayor.

He actually makes Ward look good.

Anonymous said...

100 thousand a year with no education why not be MAYOR. Only in BRISTOL is this possible. Remember this is a city were education and politians are not doing well.

Anonymous said...

Please dont blame the republicans this guy is on his own. He loves himself. thinks hes the head of the party.

Anonymous said...

Schooling from Tom Barnes?

You got to be kidding.

What does Barnes know?

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You people are really feeding this guys ego. He made this statement just to get his name in print.Hes a ham or does he eat the whole thing. Labor cuts is the only way .

Anonymous said...

And IF they take money from the penssions, THEY and HE are still spending our money in an in apprpopriate manner.

As was said earlier, address the systemic problem first.

Anonymous said...

"education and politians are not doing well."

Ahhh...need I say more?

Anonymous said...

"Ken urges renewed look" ... Let's alert the media!

Give it up Mad Dog, you just don't have what it takes.

Anonymous said...

Klocko has been feeding Ken ever so slowly to get this back on the table.The smart move would be to wait and see were the markets go . We are still on a very thin line in this recovery and it all could go bad in a hurry.I would suggest that the city look at an early retirement plan before layoffs because it would save the tax payers more money over a longer period of time.

Anonymous said...

I have two things to say. First: once you take from the pension you will continue to take. Look at the supposed "temporary" income tax and the teachers' pension, which is now broke. Nothing is a one-time deal and Cockayne and Klocko know it. Secondly, Mr. Klocko: you should NOT be voicing your opinion to the Press. It is inappropriate for you to do so, in my opinion. It is no secret that you have sidebar talks with Mr. Cockayne and it's clear what is up with the two of you. Leave the city employees' pension alone. It is not for you to touch!

Anonymous said...

The truth -- Federal law requires they leave at least 115% of the expected pension liability in the pension fund. If it ever drops below that, they have to put the money back.
This is not an ongoing raid on the fund because the only use that can be made of the pension money is to put it in another trust fund -- which happens to benefit the very same people!
Ken is not only right on the money, he has the courage to put up with a bunch of yahoos who don't want to understand how this can only help both taxpayers AND city workers.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

Good for you. Don't pay attention to the whiners and nay sayers. They like to complain and moan but they don't offer anything. Your suggestion is at least part of a solution to the problem. Others include cutting expenses, making government more efficient, etc.

Leaders lead. It may not be popular but you are stepping up and trying to address the situation.

Anonymous said...

HOW ABOUT OFFERING EARLY RETIREMENT FOR CITY EMPLOYEES? I AM SURE THERE ARE A GOOD NUMBER WHO SHOULD GO!!

Anonymous said...

I hope 6:26 meant in an "INapprpriate" manner!

Anonymous said...

Ken you need more then one person on this blog . your fan club is gone. Because you forgot were you came from.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big Ken fan but I see where he's coming from... the pension fund is over-funded. Bottom line is, the City is legally obligated to pay pensions that it owes, so the employees are really not at risk of losing a nickel of what's owed to them. If an actuary says the fund is over-funded, then it's over-funded. We the taxpayers are paying more into it than we need to. I'd rather my money go towards maintaining service levels, or even better, have it stay in my own pocket, than to have it go towards funding a bloated pension account!!!

Steve Collins said...

Actually, the city is basically putting nothing into the pension funds anymore. That's a big savings every year. I know that West Hartford pays more than $6 million annually into its employee pension fund, for example, so for Bristol to pay nothing is a big savings right off the bat.
What Cockayne and other proponents argue is that using the excess money in the pension fund for retiree health care would reduce by another $2 million annually what the city is shelling out now. That's another way the overfunded pensions could save money for taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Oh, ok, so currently we're paying nothing each year into pension and some dollar amount into OPEB, and he's saying reduce the OPEB figure and start transferring funds from the pension fund to the OPEB fund. Now that's starting to sound a little sketchier. I'd be in favor of a one-time transfer and a small reduction in the annual contributions to OPEB on a long-term basis than using pension funds to completely supplant OPEB contributions, and then suddenly when the time comes to start funding OPEB again, the city has to up their annual expenditures by $1-2M and a giant deficit ensues.

I'm really against finding any one-time budget fixes because it's like trying to get to the bottom of a hill by digging a hole. Sure, you've lowered your elevation, but eventually you have to climb back up to get out, and for all your effort you're right back where you started!

Anonymous said...

9:54

I had better check my spelling more carefully.

I did mean INAPPROPRIATE.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Just wondering what the different pros and cons of layoffs vs. early Retirement are... Can anyone explain that?

Thanks....

Positively Right said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Positively Right said...

Ken,

You're doing a good job and you're an asset to the community.

Keep up the good work and "don't let the bastards get you down".

Anonymous said...

Ken just what are you doing can you fill us in. SOME ONE THINKS YOUR A ASSET. Please explain. What about real issues like all the waste in town hall.

Anonymous said...

Kens fan club is himself.

Anonymous said...

December 4, 2009 1:49 PM:

Is that why he took Mark-OH to the cleaners and came in "2nd" to McCauley by a handful of votes in a year when the GOP had almost nothing of a mayoral candidate?

Anonymous said...

Ken is an "asset?" Well, at least you got the first 3 letters right.

Anonymous said...

Ken,
ADDRESS the PROBLEM.

But then, you'd have to understand the budget process, and get information and answers from Kloko.

The impossible dream, becuase he has you snowed and in his pocket.

Anonymous said...

The city has to pay for the whole unemployment check for as long as the people that are layed off collect.The pension pay out comes from the fund and the city is off the hook except for the med. beifits.

Anonymous said...

Ken maybe you should take lessons from kevin at least his performance moves forward. You have showed us nothing. you have no real direction. Should have had some edcuation before practising on the tax payers.

Anonymous said...

Has Cockayne started to put up his
COCKAYNE FOR MAYOR
signs yet?

Anonymous said...

Ken rocks and we are lucky to have him on the council!!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know why Steve is trying to explain to these dimwits, they know everything already!

Anonymous said...

2:45

Look what the choices were:

MArko, who did and said nothing, and Scarola, who buried himself.

After that it was name recognition, nothing else.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Stortz has posted all over this blog.

Stortz you need to get a life. Your a bitter old man. The worst mayor Bristol has ever had. You only did a good job in your pee brain mind.

Forget about the few nice people who say hi to you in DD in the morning....I'm one of them. We all just feel sorry for the old man sitting thinking he is something important.

I know you think you would have won this year but it wouldn't have been close. Your not wanted....by anyone.

You had the chance to make a difference TWICE with our city. Twice they ran you out of City Hall.

Anonymous said...

19:02

Don't know what your posting has to do with Cockaynes efforts avoid facing the city's budget problem, unless you are trying to get the subject forgotten.

Don't know that Stortz got run out of office, twice, since the last time HE opted not to run.

In getting defeated, he is one of a select group of Republicans who served and then lost, or served and then chose not to run, such as Rimcoski, White, Krawiecki, Norton, Taylor etc. Aren't very many who have won, even fewer who won as many times as Stortz.

Have you ever run? Did you ever win?

Frankly, I think he served the city well over the years, still serves the city well, and I would vote for him again, in a heartbeat.

Now back to GASB and Cockayne.

Anonymous said...

10:02

At least Stortz had the guts to stand up to the city unions.

You never did because you didn't ever win anything, unless you are Cockayne, who also hasn't stood up to the unions.

Bout time the republicans started concentrating on the real opposition (dems), and maybe even start to listen to Stortz

Anonymous said...

11:35 poster....AKA..Stortz

In reality you didn't really choose not to run. You knew you wouldn't get the endorcment and that in turn forced you not to run and try to save face.

Please don't put your name in the same sentence as those other's. Yes...they are a select group, you however are not!!

Anonymous said...

12:21 poster.....Stortz

What unions exactly did you stand up to? You didn't even have the balls to get rid of Rosenthal. All you did was baby sit him.

As far as Cockayne, I believe he took the Unions head on last. He was the only Councilman to vote no on two of the contract. Read past articles, you will see how had taken them on. Of course your so nuts what you read and what you think you read are two different things.

Go take a couple of your pills and take a nap.

Anonymous said...

Are last 2 Democratic Mayors were as bad as Stortz.The first one was a thief and ex-cop who was told to resign or be fired by Buzz Barton.The second one is gonna lead Santa and his 8 Reindeer on Christmas Eve with his Red Nose.Ken Cockayne,you say we'll have to look at this more than a baby says DaDaDaDaDa but the difference is the baby knows what he or she is talking about.

Anonymous said...

You people are feeding this guys ego. He has done nothing for bristol but make noise. IT WOULD BE JUST LIKE BRISTOL VOTERS TO LET HIM RON AGAIN.

Anonymous said...

2:54

And he would win, AGAIN!

Anonymous said...

A couple of ways to look at it:
Stortz was either the second best Republican mayor or the worst Republican Mayor in our lifetime. However, he is only ONE OF TWO REPBLICAN MAYORS elected in the past 40 years.
And he did get elected more than once.
Maybe the people have a different read on him than a few juvenile party hacks do, for whatever their personal reasons.

Anonymous said...

Block brought this up too, and the Mayor has already put out feelers to the unions to try to get this done. You idiots have no idea what you are talking about and have no idea how this tranfer would work.

Maybe I am one of the many voters who were "fooled" by Ken - lol! You hate him b/c he keeps fighting. Take on the unions?!?!? Are you serious?!?!? He is the only one the last few terms who has presented any opposition at all. Voting no to contract increases, pushing the COO, pushing GASB 45, the list goes on. The unions hate this guy b/c he won't roll over for them. I can't wait for the GASB 45 issue to be pushed by Ward and Block more vocally. Then what are all you going to say.

For anyone with 1/2 a brain this is a great idea. Yah, yah yah, whatever - it needs to be negotiated - bla, blah, blah - no SH#%! It will be negotiated and everyone will get something positive from it in the end. For those of you who don't know, the union leaders want this too, but they are taking a hard line and asking for benefits for life. That's not gonna happen, but at least it is a start in negotiations. IF you fools don't think the unions are staring at that huge pot of money chomping at the bit to get at it, you are a dope! They want this just as bad as everyone else, but they want it their way. A compromise will have to be reached and it will with this economy.

Anonymous said...

5:26

Why doesn't Cockayne spell it ALL out for the voters.
ALL the details, FACTS and FIGURES.

Then let us get on the bandwagon or not.

Why doesn't he do that?

Anonymous said...

5:56

He is too busy writing on this blog about how good he is! He does not have time to do anything else!

Anonymous said...

This guy is making history doing nothing. He does have balls to write about himself anonymous. Who else could give you his issues because there none. So dont look for any real savings from him. But when you have unedcuated people running the city this is all you get. Remember he loves himself.

Anonymous said...

Hes his own fan club. Its sad he really beleives himself. This is what the voters wanted . Lets get ready for abumpy down hill ride. Or leave town its not going to get better.

Anonymous said...

Ward trying to outdo Cockayne.

Cockayne trying to outdo Ward.

What a riot!

An expensive one.

Anonymous said...

The republicans should stay out of the next election if this is all they have. Meaning this idiot. Not one positive thing out of the group. ART and GARY must be in shock with this guy.

Anonymous said...

When COCKAYNE gets done in BRISTOL it will be the wellfare capital of the state. BRISTOL HAS SUNK TO ALL TIME LOWS WITH WELLFARE. This guy hAS GOT TO QUIT.

Anonymous said...

He got in because west end finest thought he was one of them. This guy snoops around lisening to gossip then calls the bristol press tells them about his ideas. Which go nowhere.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with coming up with an alternative plan to layoffs?

Early retirement plans sound good too.

Cuts and a general tightening of the budget is good, but if we can save two million a year right off the top, what is wrong with that?

Anonymous said...

This guy also wants to give the mall property to a local guy the city will have to bail out, He has no buisness sence or education to be making decisions.

Anonymous said...

Does Cockayne havea clue??

Anonymous said...

It seems stortz and cockayane like to blow smoke up each others ass.They both praise themselves.

Anonymous said...

All you colopietro whinning union hacks. I say CUT CUT CUT LAY OFF LAY OFF LAY OFF...let all you crying sob's go on obama kool aid ridden hope machine and fall off the face of the earth...take pelosi larson and dodd with you.

Cockayne...you go baby..YOU and YOU alone are the voice of the tax payer in this city. CAN'T WAIT TIL YOU ARE MAYOR...at least you won't suck up to the pandering union socialists!

Hee-hee said...

3:19 - Suck it up.

Anonymous said...

3:19

Hopefully it will never happen.
If Cockayne were to be elected, who would run the city: Mocabee, Schaffrick, Barnes, Kens mother?

We should know ahead of time!

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Re: 3:19

Mad dog is the voice of the tax payers??? HAHAHAHAHAHA. Woof woof mad dog. Good dog!

Anonymous said...

everyone knows that block hates the unions. i guess if none of the other democrats knew it, the cat's been let out of the bag. do i see an R next to block's name?