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Editorial Cites Covington in Call for Pension Reform

The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy, described on its website as Kentucky's only free market think-tank, had an editorial featured in the State-Journal, Frankfort's daily paper. Written by Jim Waters, the call for pension reform uses the City of Covington as an example of what local governments across the state face in relation to pension contributions:

 

While Frankfort holds task force meetings that largely avoid dealing with tough issues like politicians’ pensions, a lack of transparency, reforming pension-oversight boards and eliminating benefit creep, local leaders frantically search for Mary, because they’ve already robbed Peter to pay Paul.

Mayors find her outside police and fire stations where deep cuts in spending on public safety await. They also find her waiting at city managers’ offices as layoffs loom – all so local governments can make their mandated pension payments.

I witnessed this firsthand at a recent Covington City Commission meeting where “Mary” was “found” in the city’s firefighting budget as nine positions went up in budget-cutting flames in order to achieve $500,000 in savings.

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Steve Frank, a certified financial planner by day and Covington city commissioner by night, calculated that means local governments must pay an additional $24,000 to fund pension benefits for hazardous duty workers with $60,000 salaries.

To make its payments, Frank said Covington had to “skimp on maintaining our streets, roads, sewers, and levee system.” It all adds up to a $35 million deferred maintenance bill, “and is why the roads and city look the way they do.”

Many other local leaders tell similar stories.

Even after all their cuts, Covington still is able to fund only half of the estimated $7 million needed to keep its infrastructure from further crumbling.

Read the full editorial: State-Journal