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The Vanguard

Jefferson Davis is a longtime resident of Menomonee Falls. He is the proud parent of two wonderful boys. He enjoys singing, volunteering, reading, gardening, politics, antiques, history, guitar, violin, piano, officiating, helping neighbors and yard work. He served as Village President of Menomonee Falls from 2003-05. He is a member of Northbrook Church and serves on the Advisory Council for the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center. He is an independent registered representative practicing in the areas of insurance, investments and retirement.

Village Retiree Backdrop Cash Payouts Total Nearly $2.4 Million, While Annual Health Care Premiums Approach $22,000

Sick Leave health care scott walker cash payouts retirees

With all the talk recently of Milwaukee County Employees retiring early to penalize taxpayers with forced multi-million dollar cash payouts (http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/123955564.html) totaling nearly $200 million over the last 10 years, a very well kept secret goes on and on in Menomonee Falls on a somewhat smaller scale because of fewer employees than Milwaukee County and a slightly different payout formula.

And taxpayers wonder why their tax bills are so high?

Thanks to former Village Presidents Joe Greco and Bob Steliga and current Village Board Members Jeff Steliga, Mike McDonald, Sharon Ellis, Jim Jeskewitz, Dennis Farrell and others, the taxpayers of Menomonee Falls have been stuck with these cash payouts to retirees for many years as part of the so called "collective bargaining" and mandated "mediation/arbitration" laws excuse from the Village Board.

The Vanguard has written about the Menomonee Falls "retiree" challenge for taxpayers before (http://www.menomoneefallsnow.com/blogs/communityblogs/43791517.html) and has advocated change for many years now, but wants to keep the matter before taxpayers to determine if this is good public policy at the local level or is it time to change policy for Village Employees.

Village Retiree Backdrop Unused Sick Leave Cash Payouts Now Total Nearly $2.4 Million

Cash payouts to Village Retirees from taxpayers have totaled nearly $2.4 million since 1990 with the most recent payouts totaling $76,280 for 2010 and early 2011.

The amount for 2009 was $443,716 which included what the Village Manager determined to be "incentive retirement" cash payouts to 8 Village Retirees with free health care until age 65 on top of that.

The Village Manager, with Village Board unanimous approval, normally hides in their annual budget $120,000 funded by taxpayers to make these backdrop cash payouts to retirees.

It is The Vanguard's understanding that Governor Walker's Budget Repair Bill reforming collective bargaining will give local governmental entities the flexibility to restructure these types of payouts to save taxpayers millions of dollars across the State of Wisconsin.

It is only hoped the Menomonee Falls Village and School Boards will use this flexibility to save the taxpayers money at the local level for the future fiscal solvency of our community.

It sounds like the School Board has made a good start (http://www.menomoneefallsnow.com/news/122510404.html).

Including unfunded payouts for existing Village Employees, the taxpayers are on the hook for a total of over $5 million in cash payouts to Village Retirees according to the Village Finance Director in a memo released to the public in 2006.

Village Employees typically get 15 sick days a year with a cap of 120 at retirement for these cash payouts.

The biggest abuser of this Village Employee entitlement mentality was the twice retired former Village Manager who walked away with just short of $70,000 in cash when he retired the second time in 2007 (http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/29406379.html).

The Village Manager and Village Finance Director said this benefit was necessary because the Village didn't have disability insurance and retirees needed this benefit for health insurance in retirement.

That proved to be a lie because the Village is part of the Wisconsin Retirement System's (WRS) Disability Plan (http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et8918.pdf) at taxpayer's expense.

No one retirees from the Village without a plan in place for health insurance as these retirees go on their spouse's plan, are hired back by the Village or take a new job with health benefits.

Former NBC Meet the Press Host Tim Russert's father had accumulated 200 sick days when he retired as a garbage truck driver in New York at age 55.

When asked by his son why he hadn't used them before he retired he simply said, "Because I wasn't sick." (http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_061608/content/01125113.guest.html)

Annual Health Care Premiums Funded by Taxpayers Now Total Nearly $22,000 Per Employee

The average annual family health care premiums for Village Employees in 2011 now totals nearly $22,000 or $1,790 a month funded primarily by taxpayers.

While the previous Village Benefit Analyst was able to keep annual increases at 2.9% from 2003-2006, after inheriting 21.7% annual increases from 1999-2003 (http://www.menomoneefallsnow.com/blogs/communityblogs/43791502.html), the Village Board, led by Sharon Ellis, Jim Jeskewitz, Jeff Steliga and Mike McDonald, conspired to fire the Benefit Analyst in 2006 for as the Village Manager said at the time, "Was for pure political reasons." 

Now, Village Taxpayers, thanks to Trustees Ellis, Jeskewitz, McDonald and Steliga and their firing of the Benefit Analyst in 2006, have seen their obligation to pay taxes for Village Employee health care premiums rise to the level of nearly $22,000 a year or $1,790 a month.

The family health care plan annual premium as recent as 2004 was $12,696 or $1,058 a month.

That's a difference of 70% for taxpayers to pick up on behalf of Village Employees.

Non-represented (non-union) Village Employees only have to pay 10% of their annual health care premiums or $2,200 a year or $179 a month.

It is believed that the current Village Manager and Village Attorney pay 20% of their health care premiums.

Most union employees only have to pay 7.5% of their annual health care premiums capped at $1,440 a year or $120 a month.

Some unions pay a little more and some pay a little less.

The Village has 5 unions that have contracts that typically last for 2-3 years.

Of course these health care premiums are deducted on a pre-tax basis through a Section 125 Plan adopted by the Village saving employees from having to pay taxes on their health care premiums.

The Village also provides Dental Plans to employees on a pre-tax basis.

Depending which Dental Plan is chosen by employees, some plans are at no cost to employees while the taxpayers pick up the entire premium amount ($89.00 a month) while the other Dental Plan costs about $200 a month with costs being shared by employees and taxpayers at a 55% - 45% respective split for family plans.

The Village also provides a Retiree Health Plan that apparently doesn't require taxpayers to pay for these plans while the Village administers the plan for retirees at no cost which also apparently has the claims ratios thrown into the renewals rates for the entire plan.

The claims ratios for retirees, will by actuarial standards, necessarily increase renewal rates due to retirees using the health care system more frequently than working employees.

This is an issue that the former Benefit Analyst wanted to address to save taxpayers money in 2005-06, but Trustee Conspirators had him fired before he could implement the change.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars a year are at stake for the taxpayers of Menomonee Falls with the reform and restructuring options available to local governments with the passage of Governor Walker's Budget Repair Bill and 2011-13 Budget.

What do you think?

Please let The Vanguard know what your thoughts are for local public policy regarding public employee benefit packages for unused sick leave and health care now that Governor Walker has taken away the excuses with his reform packages.

The vast majority of public employees do a great job and are excellent workers.

Raising questions about public employee benefits is not an attack on any individuals, but is simply raising an issue that needs to be dealt with in a direct and diplomatic manner to bring benefit packages more in line with private employees while protecting the taxpayer.

What amount should Village Employees pay for their health care plans on a pre-tax basis?

_____10%

_____15%

_____20%

_____25%

_____30%

Should Village Retirees get back-drop cash payouts for unused sick leave at retirement?

_____yes

_____no

Should Village Retirees get their health care paid for until age 65?

_____yes

_____no

Should Village Retirees get a credit for health care premiums for unused sick leave instead of cash?

_____yes

_____no

Should Village Retirees Medicare Supplement Policies be Administered and Pooled with the Village's Health Care Plan potentially causing higher renewal rates for taxpayers?

_____yes

_____no

Should Village Retirees be allowed to double-dip with the Village once they retire and get their pension along with getting rehired by the Village?

_____yes

_____no

Let your Village Board know what you think of these policies that currently exist with the Village by contacting them at their group email address here...(http://www.menomonee-falls.org/index.aspx?nid=292).

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