When Beverly Hills residents found out that many of their city’s 950 municipal and public safety employees were earning stunning salaries, 13 weeks of paid vacation, unlimited overtime and other tax-free retirement benefits, taxpayers were outraged and city officials rushed into closed-door sessions to figure out what to do.
These revelations, exposed through the efforts of the city’s hometown newspaper, The Beverly Hills Courier, unmasked an even deeper problem: many California cities, and likely other municipalities across the U.S., are being strangled by the cost of ballooning pension benefits they can no longer afford.
Advertisement – story continues below
All this has taken place in the throes of a global recession that is clobbering federal, state and local tax revenues used to pay for public services and pensions, and against the backdrop of the nation’s private-sector workers, who are feeling the pain of reductions, or total losses of their pension funds. And, in many cases, their jobs.
“What we have now is a grab bag of incredible benefits for public employees that are totally detached from what’s been happening in the private sector, and it’s neither fair nor sustainable,” said John Mirisch, a first-term Beverly Hills council member elected in 2009. “When the city was rolling in dough, officials may have thought the salary and pension structure was sustainable, but certainly, it was not fair.”
A former statistician for the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS), the state’s pension fund, warned that by 2014, local governments could be paying 50 percent of a police officer’s salary, 40 percent of a firefighter’s salary and 25 percent of an employee’s salary for their pensions, according to a recent report by the California League of Cities, a statewide advocacy group.
Read More at Fox News By Leah Krakinowski, Fox News