Did Mayor Gatsas Kick The Can Down The Road? - Granite Grok

Did Mayor Gatsas Kick The Can Down The Road?

rusty canOn April 11th I swung for the fences in regard to remarks by Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and his desire to get some benefits concessions from the Teachers union to free up money in the budget..for education.  In the course of those remarks I pointed out how the Mayor had boasted about an agreement with the Manchester police and that he was just looking for something similar from the Teachers union.

A day or two after I published the post I received some intersting correspondence about that agreement with the Manchester Police; that while the union had made some very public benefits concessions there may have been other deals in the contract that could cost taxpayers even more down the road.  The unions may have actually come out ahead.

I confess that I have not had time to dig into this yet.  The news comes from someone familiar with union contracts, and how this all adds up.  So I am mostly reporting the observation at this point and tossing it out there to be crowd-sourced, before I get distracted by newer leads or events.

This needs to be vetted so I’ll share what I have and let’s see where it takes us.

  • Regarding the Yager decker pay scale,  Mayor Gatsas admits it is too costly to maintain and he guesses that all 14 alderman feel the same way.
  • The ‘concessions’ are part of the contract extension.  It extends the Yager decker scale for another two years instead of letting the contract run its course and renegotiating real reforms.
  • Anyone due a Yager decker scale raise will get one, plus cost of living raises; two dollar an hour ‘special duty’ pay raises; an extra weeks paid vacation for those who qualify, also, also, also, more and more and so on.

Why does this matter? Increased pay equals increased pension costs.  Police get paid by the hour so pay raises are compounded with overtime.   So while we may be seeing some savings today, they are at the expense of filling the bloated pension balloon bigger and bigger down the road.  Pensions that can be collected for decades by “retirees” starting as young as 45 or 50, when most of us still have another 15 to 20 years worth of working left before we can even consider retiring.

Note to contract negotiators;  if you would prohibt “collecting” on a pension before 65 or older that would be another form of benefits parity with the rest of the employed world.  (It is not a concession to shift the benefits down stream and gurantee a bigger payoff. Taxpayers should not be treated like an investment with guaranteed retruns.)

Be that as it may, the larger point here is not about whether anyone deserves anything, it is about sustainability and common sense. You can’t pay people not to work for 20 years.  You can’t expect taxpayers to fund benefits and pensions far superior to their own when they can’t even fund their own pathetic counterparts.

And if up front savings were achieved in Manchester at the expense of significantly higher payroll and pensions costs down the road, then this doesn’t end up costing Manchester taxpayers less in the long run.  Its just a magic trick, some fiscal slight of hand that the mayor and alderman used to kick the can down the road.

So is this the same kind of deal they want to work out with the Teachers union?

There are plenty of Grok readers in Manchester so consider this a hand off.  If you know something, one way or the other, send us your leads, your numbers, your introspective inside information…and we’ll run with it as best we can.

If this a step toward real reform we’d like to see those numbers crunched.  I just don’t have that kind of time.  But maybe one of you does.

Taxpayers deserve to know what they are paying for and how much it could really cost them.