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Posted on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

7 retired Ann Arbor city employees collecting pensions above $100K a year

By Ryan J. Stanton

A new report released by Taxpayers United of America claims many retired Ann Arbor city government employees are receiving lavish taxpayer-funded pensions.

The group released a list of the city's Top 50 pensioners this week. All of them make above $68,000 a year in retirement and seven make above $100,000, according to the report.

At the top of the list is Thomas Schmid, the city's former assistant fire chief, who retired in August 2002 after a stint as interim fire chief. He now receives a pension worth $126,224 a year, according to the report.

Second on the list is Bill Wheeler, a city engineer who retired in May 2010 but remained under contract through part of this year to oversee the Ann Arbor Municipal Center project. Wheeler now receives an annual pension of $121,861, according to the report.


Steve Powers

City Administrator Steve Powers said he believes TUA is targeting high pension earners for political purposes, but the reality is that the average Ann Arbor benefit payment is $31,258 and city employees are contributing to their retirement benefits.

Powers said retirement benefits for city employees have been changed by City Council and employees several times.

He also said TUA's report lists pensions earned before many of the changes were made, and most individuals on the list were hired and retired many years ago.

"Even in the last couple of years as collective bargaining agreements expired, there were significant and specific changes made to the pension ordinance," Powers said. "The changes were made in response to difficult economic and budgetary conditions and to ensure the retirement benefit is financially sustainable."

Total payouts for pensioners making above $100,000 could range from $3 million to $4 million in their lifetime, according to TUA's analysis, which assumes the individual retires at 55 and then receives benefits for another 30 years with modest cost of living adjustments.

"While Ann Arbor stagnates with 8 percent unemployment, a median home value of $223,000 and an average annual wage of $52,000, retired Ann Arbor government employees are enjoying lavish, gold-plated pensions that have made some of them pension millionaires," said Christina Tobin, vice president for the national taxpayers' rights group.

Ending pensions for all new hires would eventually eliminate unfunded government pensions, Tobin said, recommending putting new hires into Social Security and 401k plans.

"If each current government employee were required to contribute 10 percent toward his or her pension, taxpayers would save billions of dollars," she added. "We need to knock all politicians out of office who make deals with bad government union bosses and bad corporate power brokers at the expense of the taxpayers."

The City Council recently approved pension ordinance changes that increase both the vesting period and final average compensation period used for calculating pensions of nonunion city employees hired after July 1, 2011.

Eventually, when all nonunion employees are under the revised plan provisions, an actuary estimates the city's costs would be about $230,000 less per year.

Powers said it was an Arizona resident who sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Ann Arbor Employees’ Retirement System recently, requesting names, salaries and pension, information presumably on behalf of TUA. The retirement system released the requested information of names, dates of retirement and amount of annual pension.

As of June 30, the city's pension system was 88 percent funded, compared to being 90.3 percent funded the year before and 126.8 percent funded in 2002.

The city's unfunded pension liability has grown to $57.6 million, up from $45.5 million a year ago — and significantly up from $1.7 million in 2008. City officials hope recent changes to retiree benefits will help the city chip away at that obligation.

A recent actuarial valuation report for the city's retirement system showed the city had 798 retirees and 135 beneficiaries receiving benefits as of June 30. The average age of persons receiving benefits is 67.2 and the average annual benefit payments equal $31,258.

The number of retired members and beneficiaries increased by 6.1 percent in the past year, while the average age of the retired members remained the same. The total annual benefit payments for those members increased by 7.3 percent in the past year.

As of June 30, there also were 664 city employees in active service covered under the provisions of the city's retirement plan.

On average, Powers said, 25 percent of the city's total pension benefits now in "pay status" are attributable to individual contributions plus interest. For most employees, he added, their pension contributions have increased recently.

Powers also said the funded status of pensions is merely a snapshot in time and includes many variables. He said there are various estimates of funded levels of public plans, including one survey of 215 pension funds that found an average funding level of 76.1 percent.

Corporate funding levels of defined benefit plans are estimated to be about 75 percent, according to several sources, Powers said.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.


Geoff Larcom

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 11:18 p.m.

Bill Wheeler served the city of Ann Arbor with distinction for decades. During that time, he helped oversee the building of the new Justice Center, along with the city's center of operations on Ellsworth Road, which is now named after him. He has significant managerial and engineering skills that would draw considerable pay in the private sector, but elected to work for this city for some 40 years.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

I love how most of the comments here missed the part where (1) the city pension system has already been reformed (multiple times) and (2) the average pension is $31,258. "City Administrator Steve Powers said he believes TUA is targeting high pension earners for political purposes, but the reality is that the average Ann Arbor benefit payment is $31,258 and city employees are contributing to their retirement benefits." "Eventually, when all nonunion employees are under the revised plan provisions, an actuary estimates the city's costs would be about $230,000 less per year."


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

Personally, I think that pensions, in general, are terrible and should be eliminated going forward. They simply aren't sustainable in the public or private sector as people continue to live longer. A better method is to have everyone save on their own for retirement and/or draw on social security. It will likely mean that slightly higher wages have to be paid now, but it will remove an uncertain and perpetual fiscal burden later.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

Man, that must be nice! It's like winning the lottery! Meanwhile most of us 30 somethings are one paycheck from being on the streets. Better get that warming shelter ready.

Bob Krzewinski

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

It seems like the real goal of &quot;Taxpayers United Of America&quot; (which for some reason tends to focus almost all their activity in Illionois where their office is) is to get rid of pensions altogether. Gee, that makes me wonder. Where does Taxpayers United get their funding from anyway. It's amazing what you find when you follow the money. Oh, and on Taxpayers United spokesperson Christina Tobin, with all t he knowledge of her young life, she thinks what Governor Walker did in Wisconsin (i.e. union-busting) was great and he deserves a &quot;pat on the back&quot; (her words at the 1:30 mark of <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>.

Mike K

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

This is how the left wants to build the middle class lol. I cannot believe some will defend or deflect on this. It is outrageous. With &gt;25 years of professional work experience and a college degree, some of these people are making more than I am IN RETIREMENT. This is wrong.

David Paris

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 11:33 p.m.

Mike, it is wrong, you should definitely have a little man-to-man with your boss, this is no way to treat a degreed employee with 25 years on the job!


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 3:58 a.m.

Pathetic and distugsting. This is beyond words folks , simply beyond words or explanation ! Heads should roll , many of them ! Good Day

arvin hopkins

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

The public has a right to know that no police officer hired in the last 20+ years is going to be collecting a pension anything like the ones described on this list. The retirement formula that allowed for these ridiculous pensions has been gone for decades. What about it Stanton? Am I right? How about a little balance?


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 10 p.m.

That's not how Stanton works. Write articles that will fire up the public. Fact is not of any concern. Just copy and paste an article written by someone else and call it journalism. That's why no one at the FD can stand this kid anymore and won't talk to him.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 7:45 a.m.

I love it that Thomas Schmid did a &quot;stint&quot; as interim fire chief....this is pension &quot;spiking&quot; where he now get a pension as a fire chief. What a taxpayer rip off. And it's still going on in government,Last minute promotions, disabilities for things like &quot;falling out of your chair&quot; and then they go on to hold a full time position while collecting tax free disability It's a scam that's got to end and end quickly. These folks have committed legal fraud in the &quot;spiking&quot; game.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

before you get all excited... that should've read: Unions do NOT tell cities... This system was 100% created by the administrator. NOT public employees.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

@Snapshot... the Germans once did horrible things to people. Japanese were once our enemies. We can keep living in the past and talk like it's still the present all day long. Or grow up and live in the present day. Realize that things have been corrected LONG ago, just as the Administrator told you. Mistakes were made (the system was put in place by a former administrator). Unions do tell cities what the pension system will look like. Notice there's no mention of why those payouts are so large? The city had these guys work tons of overtime. Told them they didn't have the money to pay them and ASKED the employees to HELP THE CITY OUT and take the time in comp. time and they would pay them back at the end of their career. Should the employees said, &quot;No pay me now.&quot; and break the city. Or maybe everyone should just work for free?


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 3:51 a.m.

Oh, and if their was more transparency instead of union secrecy........those facts would be more well known. Let's put it on the table.....who's on disability, how many, are they holding other jobs while collecting.....put in on the table for public viewing.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 3:48 a.m.

born...did spiking occur? Enough said....hut hut google it.

hut hut

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

Please tell us who fell out of their chair. Putting quotes around a phrase doesn't make it fact. Stop making things up or start taking your own garbage to the landfill including your crazy ranting.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

And of course, you have evidence of all this right? You can name names and positions? Of course you can't, because as it's been stated many times over, even in this article, this is a story of things that happened YEARS ago and has been changed. Something what was also created by the city administrator. You can hold on to the past, or acknowledge the changes that have happened to help the future.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:44 a.m.

So what are the top executive salaries at - we'd all love to know. I guess all the success and large profit margins would justify them.

Mike K

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

Deflect? C'mon man.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:49 a.m.

Best of my knowledge, they are not municiple employees.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:48 p.m.

Wow, what a bunch of misinformation. First, City employees do not pay into Social (in) Security. even if they make up points after retirement, they are penalized for the period they worked for the City. Second, Many of these retirements date back to the early 2000s when the City (read elected officials) was trying to shed salary and benefits. In order to shed salary and benefits they offered lucrative packages to entice long term employees to leave. Third, there are several mentions of cost of living increase. I have been retired for 10 years. In that time, I have never received a cost of living increase. there were some &quot;bonus&quot; payments that were one time only payments because the stock market was doing well. I doubt if those totaled over $500. fourth, these people all worked 25 plus years at a high level. These are not people walking around looking for handouts. Because of their service to the Peoples Republic of Ann Arbor, they can look forward to shorter lives than the average citizen does to exposures to radon, asbestos, fire, chemicals, shift work and stress. The typical police retiree has significant hearing loss from noise pollution- sirens and gunshots. Both Police and fire retirees suffer from respiratory issues related to smoke inhalation, and exposure to unknown contaminants. Many if not all suffer form severe back pain from a number of sources. Rather than attack dedicated public servants who put their lives, and family relationships on the line to provide a safe environment for you to live in, why don't you question the officials that you elected, who decided to dispose of the talented staff of the 1990s-2000s by prematurely eliminating an entire generation of skilled employees.

Mike K

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

$100,000 a year is $100,000 a year Mike. Period. All of us are paying for it (I can only assume you are too), and it is &quot;unfair&quot; to all of us who are. It is indeed &quot;lavish&quot;.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 4:22 a.m.

For back pain see a Chiroprater NOW

hut hut

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

You're flat wrong snapshot to make a blanket statement condemning several thousand people, many still working and retirees ,saying they were in it only for themselves. That's wrong, unjust, cruel and just plain stupid. If anyone was gaming the system it was a very very few and the primary &quot;gamer&quot; was Neil Berlin who changed the retirement rules to suit himself. The vast majority of public service employees were and are dedicated and their attitude was public first, You're flat wrong snapshot.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 7:53 a.m.

Mike, you can rationalize it any way you want with your misinformation....truth is the system is being &quot;gamed&quot; and you're just trying to &quot;justify&quot; it. I don't buy it. And very few public servants ever put their lives on the line as you indicate. Far more civilians get killed and maimed every year than &quot;cops&quot;. The bad guys run from you while they attack ordinary citizens. Plus you are armed and trained and belong to the biggest gang in America, have instant communications to bring &quot;back up&quot;. We &quot;normal&quot; citizens can't even get a 911 response. You serve yourself and don't think we citizens don't know it.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

TUA's political agenda is to distort information, demonize public service employees and union workers so as to limit the money that they contribute to Democrats. This is part and parcel of the over-arching reason why Republicans, conservatives and libertarians want to poison the political process so much that people, primarily independent voters, will be so mad they refuse to vote. It leaves the booths wide open for their rabid followers. The same reason applies for practically non existent alleged voter fraud and the spate of voter fraud legislation we see. TUA stands to gain quite a bit of money from donations for spreading these half truths . The Tobin's are laughing all the way to the bank because more than a few people are duped by their divisive half truths. All while looking the other way at the true thieves. I wonder how much of their money comes from the ultra rich and corporations who stand to gain by privatizing government services?

Mike K

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

Don't defend it. It's outrageous. PERIOD.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:49 p.m.

In the real world, no one gets pensions, and that's been the case for a long time. This is an example of criminal-level administrative malfeasance on the part of those who annually beg for higher millage rates.

Mike K

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

Not quite true BornNRaised. Chemical plants don't stop for Christmas, nor do glass plants or steel plants..... Don't defend this outrageousness because of your political position.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:41 p.m.

In the real world people get holidays off. People don't work 24 hours or more straight. In your 'real world' I get to sit in a cubicle and not worry about who's trying to kill me at my job. Talk to me more about your 'real world'.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

You're plain wrong. Real world private businesses have provided pensions for the employees for decades. I have one. Then there are the golden parachutes given to failed CEO's before they get fired. Maybe those are the &quot;pensions' to which you refer.

larry kramer

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

if it were an auto company, they would simply declare bankruptcy and simply be absolved of any pension liabilities.

hut hut

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

Then the execs and shareholders would get bailed out by the taxpayers and the retirees would be homeless and eating cat food.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:17 p.m.

Oh, you better believe that that's what many of these municipalities will doing years down the road. This is not sustainable, and the taxpayers will not bankrupt themselves to honor these outrageous payments.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

&quot;If each current government employee were required to contribute 10 percent toward his or her pension, taxpayers would save billions&quot; They already do. See they make on average 10 percent less then their private sector comparables.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

Wow, the things I could provide for my family if I made just a fraction of that.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:05 p.m.

not their fault you didn't become a firefighter or police officer.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

Whenver its a slow newsday they know they can publish a list of pensions and get everyone all fired up. This is old news. Tom Gantert and the old Ann Arbor News perfected this. I think he published this list a dozen times. (maybe an over estimate but it was alot)


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

Same with UM salaries.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6 p.m.

Has anyone taken into account the dollar amounts of payments contributed to their pension funds by the retirees themselves?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

Does it not say in the article that about 25% of pension was employee contributions!!!! I sure wish that my &quot;retirement&quot; earnings could be four (4) times the amount of what I put in + earnings like the city employees (and have free medical).

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

It's not even funny that nobody mentions that workers pay part of their own retirement through payroll deductions and as you said, many of them put in more than the minimum


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

Heck no, that would make too much sense wouldn't it? :&gt;)


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

I have to agree with Clownfish here. I too know Bill Wheeler through my father who was a city employee/retiree also. Bill must have worked for the city around 40 years and was a very hard worker who worked his way up to city engineer and made many important contributions to Ann Arbor through his work.I know that they had a contributory pension plan with a match so much of what he is drawing is a result of personal contributions.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

This is Not New News. The City of Ann Arbor government officials have been &quot; giving away the ship &quot; for many years now. It is easy to give away tons of cash when its not yours. Live with it!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

Why not just make all city employees work for free? Or how about we just pay them when we need them? All great ideas. Or how about we promise certain benefits agreed by the city to attract skilled workers, then when they sign up, take everything away from them? Even better!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:42 p.m.

I don't know that I want to sidetrack anything on the fiscal issue here but it's interesting that the majority on this list are men. However, I am an equally opportunity taxpayer and regardless of gender, these types of contracts should NOT happen regardless of skill and experienced. As your parents used to say (I know two parents are a fading luxury): Two wrongs do not make a right!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

And people wonder why 'government' is broke ... and poor - which is why taxpayers are poor as well. Success begets success and earnings follow. Occupy is not the answer. Self sufficiency is a better goal and this should also be true of those serving in government positions. These hand outs must be reigned in! NOW! It seems to me that too many want to be on the handout list vs. the hand up and pulling up the boot straps so to speak. Agree that city officials (as well as federal for that matter) here have been and continue to be fiscally irresponsible with OUR (not their) money which is harder and harder to come by!

David Paris

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

Nobody wonders why government is broke, hence Occupy Wallstreet. You know Wallstreet, the people that stole our Bootstraps!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

@Hut Hut wrote: &quot;The Big Banks and Hedge Fund Managers that were going bankrupt in 2007 (Bush) and were responsible for the economic meltdown got bailed out to the tune of $$billions by taxpayers. [No, actually it was $$trillions! -SLR] They got bailouts, bonuses which went to their offshore bank accounts. There is no comparison between those tax dollars and the ones for public employees pensions.&quot; I agree, Hut Hut there is no comparison at all! Ann Arbor's $500 million in debts are tiny compared to the scale of the theft by Wall Street. According to the newly released files, $7.7 TRILLION DOLLARS was handed out by the Fed to Wall Street, European banks and even a bank owned by Libya. See: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;...the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009..&quot; If we don't get the mega banks under control we won't have any democracy left. Putting so much money in too few hands gives them tremendous power and is a recipe for disaster. Too many of our current political leaders are bought and paid for from some of the money skimmed off the top of these scandals!


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 4:19 a.m.

THE CNN Money report for the Bail-out of the AIG $ 1.5 TRILLON taken from the SOCIAL SECURITY &quot;TRUSTFUND&quot;.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

So this should not be fixed since it's not as big/bad as the bank figures?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

Pres Obama's largest campaign fund providers in 2008: who's team is he on? University of California $1,648,685 Goldman Sachs $1,013,091 Harvard University $878,164 Microsoft Corp $852,167 Google Inc $814,540 JPMorgan Chase &amp; Co $808,799 Citigroup Inc $736,771 Time Warner $624,618 Sidley Austin LLP $600,298 Stanford University $595,716 National Amusements Inc $563,798 WilmerHale LLP $550,668 Columbia University $547,852 Skadden, Arps et al $543,539 UBS AG $532,674 IBM Corp $532,372 General Electric $529,855 US Government $513,308 Morgan Stanley $512,232 Latham &amp; Watkins $503,295


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

Thank Goodness the Michigan Republicans decided to pass a bill to start taxing these wealthy retirees pensions. If you think there is a problem with this then you must be a &quot;Closet&quot; Republican! Its alright to come out of the closet.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

All of you are crazy. When the people hired in this is what the CITY OFFERED. When you work you payed taxes &amp; when you get you monthly check you pay tax again!! So quit you whining ABOUT OUR MONEY THAT WE EARNED.

Mike K

Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

I can't believe this is being defended. I am at a loss for words that some find this acceptable.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

I do live on $2,400 /month and I work over 40 hours/week for it AND I have no pension plan in the offing! College kids are graduating into an economy where they'll be lucky to get $2,400/month despite their degrees, including post-grad degrees. I know Masters holders working for $10/hr.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

And may I add we only get under $ 2400 a month. Live on that !!!!!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:29 p.m.

outddoor6709, ref. &quot;Public/ paid by taxes; Private/ paid by corporation&quot; -- if you don't think you are paying for the pensions/compensation packages of private sector workers, you are deluding yourself. Where do you think that &quot;corporation&quot; gets the money to pay its CEOs and workers? You. I guarantee you the average CEO or upper manager pays less into his/her retirement/compensation package than your average public employee.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

Nekm1, I don't have a civil service job at this time, but thanks for your concern. And you completely missed the point. History is what it is, and the facts are not in dispute, whether you like them or not. Your bitterness is misdirected, and quite likely based on incomplete knowledge of the facts. I suggest you read YpsiLivin's post in reply to Mike, above. If you are being &quot;screwed&quot; every time you get paid, I suggest you take it up with your employer, or perhaps your elected officials.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

&quot;I don't recall public employees en masse begrudging retired autoworkers, for example, or any other group of private employees, their massive salaries, benefits and pensions &quot; Public/ paid by taxes; Private/ paid by corporation


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8 p.m.

Are you serious? Two people, and their pension amounts, are named in the 1st four paragraphs of the article, and the attachment lists everyone's first name, last name and pension amount. Please.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

YpsiVet, It is not personal. The people listed are public figures, hence the ablility to FOI the pension amounts. If you look at GM's annual report you can see the salary &amp; benefits of current executives. It would be personal if the average policeman or firefighter's name was listed with pension amounts.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:33 p.m.

Also, as the article clearly states, &quot;ever expanding&quot; government is not what the situation is here. Numerous actions have been taken to reduce liabilities going forward and help fill in the funding gap. All this venom directed at individuals who have long since retired is misplaced and indefensible.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

Outdoor, first of all, it is a personal assault; peoples names are being printed in the newspaper, as opposed to impersonal facts about the situation, so don't kid yourself. Historically, for most of the last 75 years, public pensions were to make up for the fact that public employees worked for what was universally acknowledged as less money than a similar job in the private sector would pay. I don't recall public employees en masse begrudging retired autoworkers, for example, or any other group of private employees, their massive salaries, benefits and pensions for the last 30 years, even though they came with an ever increasing cost of living that put many of the nicer things in life completely out of reach of the average civil servant.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

This is not a personal assult. This is about the future. What happened to city workers wages and pensions in Benton Harbor when they went broke? Citizens can only afford ever expanding government when the economy is expanding. Growth in Mich. will be flat for another 10 years. Government needs to manage their resources now not later. For the average worker, private sectors are nowhere as generous as public sector pensions. At this point private sector wages are not as high as public sector wages, on average. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Average Annual Wage Federal Govt. Workers $67,756 State Police $61,000 Local Firefighters $60,572 State Govt. Workers $48,742 State Legislative Workers $48,129 Government (all types) $47,552 Private (total sector) $45,155

Patricia Lesko

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

This is an interesting story, and good for Ryan for doing it. Steve Powers has city managers who are being paid overtime, so he should take care when trying to minimize these problems. Sue McCormick will soon go to work in Detroit and earn $195,000 per year, plus benefits. She has a pension from Lansing, will have one from Ann Arbor, and surely one from Detroit. Ann Arbor should never have offered her the chance to draw a pension, and neither should Detroit. It's a perversion of the system. In March 2011 A2Politico did a piece about &quot;retired&quot; city employees who are receiving pensions and healthcare benefits funded by Ann Arbor taxpayers and EARNING more than $100,000 per year in their NEW jobs. We can add Sue McCormick to that list. To find out what other former Ann Arbor employees are collecting healthcare and pensions from Ann Arbor taxpayers and working in jobs that pay $100K or more, you can visit this link: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 4:19 a.m.

Managers do not make overtime. They are salaried employees, exempt from overtime. Police and fire do make overtime and many of the people on that list were police and fire employees.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:53 p.m.

My next door neighbor retired from the Ann Arbor Police Department about 10 years ago. He said he would be making more in retirement than when he was working. He was laughing about it. Then he moved up to Harbor Springs and became a police officer up there.

Abigail Claire

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Do NOT think that for one minute the underfunded pensions are because too much is going out. It is because the investments are losing money in the stock market. All through the 90's the pension was funded more than 100% due to wise investments and the bullish market. The City for many years neglected to contribute their share because the fund was so over funded, even though it was their fiduciary obligation. When the stock market crashed the pension accounts lost a lot money, just like everyone else. The pension accounts started losing money in 2008 at the same time as the market crash. What the article does not state is that these people also contribute to their pensions! Not all of that pay is from the tax-payers. This is not an accurate article. Who is&quot;Taxpayers United of America&quot;? An Anti-Tax Group, not an independent think tank as the author of this article leads you to believe. If you contribute to a -457 plan, why should they not be entitled to collect on it? If municipalities want to attract strong leaders, who are responsible for making Ann Arbor such a desirable place to live you have to pay them.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

Please don't confuse the masses with facts. I wonder how many people attended council meetings to object when the city decided not to make the annual pension payments because of overfunding? I guess none.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

Here's an easy fix for government pensions everywhere in this country ess you're collecting one) where bloated government has put us on the hook for something we, the taxpayers, can't afford: 1. Nobody can collect a pension until they reach the same age as when the rest of us are fully funded for social security (67 years old as of today). As the age of social security benefits increases the age of receiving a government pension increases with it, including all of our legislators. 2. Health care benefits for retirees will be eliminated and medicare will be their option. They can purchase supplemental policies like everyone else. If it's good enough for the rest of us it's good enough for our &quot;public servants&quot; including our legislators. Obama says it's good! 3. If you are currently collecting a pension it will be adjusted to a maximum of $2000 per month over a three year period. If you are under the retirement age of social security (67) your pension will be phased out until you reach that age over a three year period. That should not be a hardship for some since many are working as &quot;consultants&quot; where they used to work or in their second government career earning a second pension. We lose a lot of experienced government employees to early retirement and then pay them to come back as &quot;consultants&quot; while they collect their pension. Then we have to hire another government employee to replace them and start all over and be on the hook again for more benefits. 4. The maximum number of government pensions you can earn in a life time is ONE. If you currently have two, one will be eliminated over a three year period and you can keep the most lucrative one with a cap of $2000 per month. This would also include legislators. 5. If government employees cop an attitude about the changes, show them the door and hire one of the unemployed Americans who pay taxes to support their lucrative government jobs. I'm sure someone like that would appreciate the job


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that a married couple at age 65 will need between $200K and $340K to cover unpaid medical expenses in retirement. (Private health insurance plans don't cover everything - particularly long-term care.)The average life expectancy 75 for men and 80 for women, so retirees will have somewhere between $1,700 and $2,800 per month in unpaid medical expenses throughout their retirement. How did you arrive at your proposed (and apparently arbitrary) cap of $2,000 per month? Public employees pay into the pension plan while they're working - just like private sector workers pay into their retirement funds. The workers fund THEIR retirements with THEIR money. Not your money -their money. Pension contributions made by the employees are supposed to cover both the monthly pension payout and the health care IF healthcare is part of the pension. (Healthcare isn't a guaranteed pension benefit.) Shortfalls in the pension fund can occur if: * the return on investments doesn't occur as anticipated, * the pension investments lose money, * the organization doesn't make pension plan payments as required, * the organization &quot;borrows&quot; against the pension fund * medical costs rise higher than anticipated The pensioner has no control over any of these things. None whatsoever. S/He put the money into the fund, but the fund managers are the ones who determine: a.) how much the employee contributions need to be to cover obligations, and b.) how the pension funds are invested. Did it occur to you that the TUA's assumptions (e.g., a 30-year payout period) are arguably faulty? Do you know that in the real world, people who retire early tend to die earlier than people who retire at &quot;retirement age?&quot; Do you have any idea how much a pension would cost the city if workers were required to work until age 67? You should try to understand the intricacies of a problem before you propose solutions for it.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

you are brilliant!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:52 p.m.

Mike, how are you supposed to attract a talented workforce if you pay them less and give them less benefits than the marketplace?

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4 p.m.

Thank you Mr Powers for your common sense, factual explanation. The City is in good hands.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4 p.m.

Why not change the retirement benefits? Receiving over $X in retirement per year, buy your own medical benefits. I also like the idea of using the base salary instead of the total salary (to include the overtime).

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

Year end holiday sale at annarbordotcom. Free torch and pitchfork with every subscription and commenter registration.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

This is an outrage! Besides the huge pensions these folks are also drawing social security I suppose. No one deserves or needs that much money!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:05 p.m.

It's amazing how many people have absolutely no idea of the facts surrounding issues they love to become so outraged about. I guess it's why they continue to vote incompetents into office, who then create the very situations they blame others for, instead of themselves. How many city council meetings have you attended? This stuff didn't happen in the dark in secret, but the way. It's all public record, taking place in public. Where were you?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

please read the previous posts. They do NOT get Social Security.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

Unless you have the same opportunity, I guess


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

Average retirement age of 55? I should be so lucky. 30 and out seems to be reserved almost entirely for government and union employees. Why I see no reason not to accept it if that is what is offered they should not be surprised if the people paying for their retirements object to paying for them when they can't get the same deals. You look around the state and see all the municipalities in financial trouble it's no surprise that pension/health care costs for their retirees is a big part of the problem.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:37 p.m.

You want someone 67 years old fighting a fire or trying to drag you out of one? Not me. Give me someone in their prime capable of performing the job.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

So that's where the money for the Humane Society contract went. Well that, and Conan's personal bank account. This is what voting down political lines will get you.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

or perhaps to the fountain that still isn't finished yet


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

It is easy to shoot the messenger, TUA or give examples of excessive Ceo pensions. If a private company screws up and pays to much in pensions and other costs, it goes bankrupt. Then the pensions are less than 1/2 of original amount. If you do not belief it ask US STeel employees or Delphi salaried employees who lost 100% of their pension. If a government unit pays to much in pensions, it just taxes more. The problem is as government employees think they are entitled to high pensions everyone else is losing their pensions. What major employer in this area still enroles new employees in a defined benefit program? My guess is few if any. It appears that many public employees are getting 100% of their retirement salaries in retirement. Not even close in the private sector.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

The Big Banks and Hedge Fund Managers that were going bankrupt in 2007 (Bush) and were responsible for the economic meltdown got bailed out to the tune of $$billions by taxpayers. They got bailouts, bonuses which went to their offshore bank accounts. There is no comparison between those tax dollars and the ones for public employees pensions


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

CEO pensions are not paid by tax payers. If private companies go bankrupt you can lose your benefits. the government looks at taxpayers as a bottomless pile of money that they can continually tap if they run out of money. They create new taxes, I mean fees, to cover what they want to pay themselves at our expense. these days are coming to a close and it will soon be time to pay the piper as they say. If I were a government employee I would cut back my lifestyle and save money while it is there. We're not hat far from facing what Greece is facing; or you can stick your head in the sand and pretend everything will be OK.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

It is not the fault of these people who took these jobs serving the public 20, 30 and more years ago. Yet we demonize them. We should all have good paying jobs with health care and pensions, but some folks call that &quot;socialism&quot;. People's anger is incredibly misdirected during these hard times. Everyone looks for the easy scapegoat and those among us, the small fry, are the easiest. Where's the Tobin's outrage at Big Banks, ultra rich CEO's, hedge fund managers and multinational corporations who crashed the global economy? Maybe they think that kind of fleecing is ok?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

You nailed it Mike. These people were made promises that can not be kept. The pensions may be mostly funded the the medical is not, and the current taxpayers that don't have these deals are not going to pony up the money make up the deficiency. You think a working age guy making $50k a year w/ minimal 401k match is going to fork over extra taxes for a retiree making $75k + full medical? know, I know we have to honor these past contracts.... well yes, until we determine that we can't, and then we won't.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

I feel the wording of the Ann Arbor. Com report does slant towards &quot;demonizing&quot; the receivers of the pension. These people were following the rules they were given at the time. Why does the press feel that city workers should be paid nothing and receive no benefits?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

We're not demonizing them at all. You are right it is not their fault, but they will have to come to the reality that they're not going to get what they were promised. This is the fault of past government officials who are long gone. The taxpayers are getting fed up, so unless you have another source of funding besides OUR pay checks you should prepare for the coming reality check.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

If there are 798 retirees and 135 beneficiaries and 664 in active service covered by the plan that equals 1,597 total persons covered. If the current plan is 88 percent funded and the amount of the unfunded liability is 57.6 million (the 57.6 million represents 12 percent) the total amount of the plan liability is 537.6 million dollars. The average total liability per employee covered under this plan is $336,631. The taxpayers need to ask if this is really fair, and furthermore they need to ask if the elected officials are properly exercising their fiduciary responsibilities.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

So, the Tobin's are willing to mark the foreheads of retired public employees with a scarlet A but not a whisper about the Bankers and Hedge Funds Managers who brought the global economy to its knees.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

welcome to deals by government. same goes on in washington. they make deals all the time. what you need to look at is what is comming down the pipe line. i am sure some in the city has just a good deals as those making 100,000 plus.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

Simple - cut their pensions.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Yeah, breaking contracts and laws is simple. Why should the city follow contracts they have negotiated.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

It is simple. You put out your own fires, please, and handle the robbers yourself. When you are finished, don't forget to plow the snow and pick up the garbage.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

Seems to me most of you are hating on the wrong people. Be real. You can't tell me if your employer offered you the retirement firefighters and police officers have that you wouldn't jump at it. I know I can't do what they do (nor would I want to) but, appreciate there are persons out there willing to put their lives on the line for the rest of us.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

Unless they paid in before becoming public safety employees or get SS paying jobs after working 20 years. It's more common that you think.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

Good point. And, for the record Police and Fire do NOT pay into social security so they don't collect any social all...period


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

Feeding at the trough courtesy of the tax payers. How typical!

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:05 p.m.

Kind of like Big Banks (government bailout), Corporations (tax breaks and loopholes) and their CEO's ( low tax rate, un-earned, capital gains)? There is no comparison to what the banks, hedge fund managers, multi national corporations and CEO's make and take and what public employees earn.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

The Tobin family began and &quot;owns&quot; Taxpayers United and have made quite a good living from targeting public employees and their pensions. All of 31 years old, Christina Tobin is in the family business, a tax exempt non profit. TUA enabled Christina to run for California Sec of State. She worked on Ralph Nader's election staff. It seems that the Tobin's have built a nice little tax exempt empire based on supporting political causes. There's nothing wrong with that, but it seems that besides their tax exempt family business that makes possible their personal ambitions they also have a personal political agenda. It sounds like the Tobin's have made a nice tax free bed for themselves. James Tobin worked for the Federal Reserve. Does he receive a government pension? Every single one of us should set up a tax free politically oriented non profit to support our families. Ain't it grand how our system works?


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:11 a.m.

Absolutely nobody is begrudging a 30 year fireman a 32K/year pension. Which is why that wasn't what the article or the headline were about. They were about the $100k/year guy. Or didn't you notice that?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

The data is flawed. The assumptions made are pulled from thin air. The data says the AVERAGE person makes a pension of $31k. The real question becomes, do you consider $31 k to be too much money to live on as a senior? Keeping in mind that public employees take these jobs at lower wages BECAUSE they want larger retirement benefits and more stability. If your opinion is that a firefighter, or police officer that worked 30 years should receive less than $31k per year, you have shown your true colors and I will laugh if your house burns to the ground because fire protection could not get there in time


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

So....reporting the truth is a scam? Please explain? BTW, feel free to set up your own non-profit. You could call it or something. No, on second thought you can't. That one is already taken.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

They also research and report stuff like this to the general public or it would never see the light of day, just like talk radio and FOX. They make a good living and have good ratings because people want to know this information. Unlike the MSNBC's of the world where everything they talk about somehow has something to do with Bush.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

The Tobin's have a personal agenda. What's the agenda of public employees?

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

Just saying that the Tobin's have a nice little family business non profit scam going on. We should all be so lucky.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

Don't like the data, so you blame the person who collected it?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

The issue at hand in this article is outrageous. The question is what is the best way we Ann Arbor taxpayers can create change? One answer maybe in creating voter ballot proposals.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

How about a blast from the past? Why are people upset about private sector pensions being so low? &quot;On October 4, 1999, Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney announced the sale of a business unit, a decision that robbed $25 million from worker pensions. Workers wondering where all that money disappeared may look to Cheneys own pension. Thats because nine months after plundering $25 million from the pension, Halliburtons board of directors, with Cheney as its chairman, awarded Cheney a $20 million pension. And it was all legal. &quot;- <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

Mike - it's called Corporate Welfare for a reason.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

Halliburton feeds at the breast of bloated government contracts (taxes) and self designed tax loopholes under which Cheney and others legally made out like Robber Barons. They also poisoned the Gulf of Mexico, make their profits using taxpayer paid infrastructure, education etc. They had a lot of help from us taxpayers and what did we get from them? The rules of the capitalist game allows them to profit enormously because they, with the help of their friends in Congress (Cheney et al) wrote the rule If only working people were that connected and lucky


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

Halliburton is a private company; they can do whatever they want with THEIR money. We're talking about OUR (taxpayer) money here so I'm not sure what your point is.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

If memory serves me correctly, a city administrator proposed the present retirement plan, which by the way was excellent in every way, and then shortly there after retired making a very good pension and retirement package. Over the years, it appears that the city has not taken an interest in the &quot;pension package&quot; until now that they are &quot;totally&quot; broke. Another administrator worked for the city for only 8 years and receives $40/per year and complete health benefits. I lay it on those who run the city and have not kept up with being fiscally responsible. RE: Fire and Police--they deserve what they have earned and yes they, at least the firefighters, do not receive social security.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 5:12 a.m.

Without police and fire, few of these excessive pensions would exist. I do not think they are any more worthy than any of the other city employees who work their butts off and don't receive a dime of overtime, but work it wothout the extra pay. As for police and fire, again, If you are able to retire at 45, you can go out and get another job for a few years and then be eligible for social security, which is exactly what they do. Sorry, no tears here. The fire department in particular would promote someone for a few months and then they would retire, using the higher pay as a benefit calculation. That practice has stopped, to the chagrin of some fire fighters.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

One of the practices that drives up pension costs is the base public sector employees use to calculate pension benefits. In the private sector the few businesses that have a defined benefit plan, use either the an average of the last 3 or 5 years of base salary as the starting point. Overtime is not added to the base. In public sector it is total salary. So the trick used is to give about to retire empolyees a lot of overtime in the last 3 years of their career to drive up the base. This practice is not well known to the taxpayer and should be stopped immediately.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

I don't think outdoor was criticizing people who legitimately work overtime, I believe they are referring to specifically using overtime close to retirement for pension benefit purposes--possibly some that don't normally work overtime.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

A a family member of someone who is frequently &quot;given&quot; O.T., I agree. Please stop immediately. He, and we, would all be much happier if he were home at night, home on his birthday, home on our kids' birthdays, and occasionally, maybe once in five years or so, home on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Educate yourself, please. many, many municipal workers are forced to work ridiculous amounts of O.T., especially now, because of insane staffing cuts. The demands of the population do not decrease just because the staff to handle them does. Keep this in mind the next time you or someone you know dials 911 to ask what time the fireworks start, or sets the porch on fire for the 4th year in a row trying to deep-fry the turkey.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

Most of the top six (and many from the rest of the list) retired under the Special Retirement Window in 2001-2002 under Neal Berlin's Administration (as did he), where many other incentives were included. This was also a time when comp time was allowed to be rolled into your pension, which is no longer the case. That window was implemented by the City and not the pension board, which only administers the system.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

Keep in mind that these former city employees did not hold a gun to anyones head to get these huge amounts. Elected officials approved their contracts. When dealing with other peoples money it is far easier to give in, than hold the line. BLAME YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS.

Tony Livingston

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

I agree totally. I have brought this up with my representative, Christopher Taylor, but he simply does not respond.

r treat

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

I suppose Rick Snyder is responsible for this too! It's time for a new direction in this town. The fox has had a great time watching the hen house.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

I think they were being sarcastic, no?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

Get real. This has been going on for years. Rick had nothing to do with Ann Arbor's pension contracts.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

Notice to those under 40: You will be funding cushy pensions like this for the rest of your life. You, however, will have to make due with your 3% company match 401K...


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 10:58 a.m.

Actually, relatively few companies are offering matches any longer.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

The money I put into SS and Medicare PAID IT FORWARD just like my parents did for me


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

Or you could go down to City Hall and fill out a job application, offering to do the job for less, like A2WS1 is going to do on Monday.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

Two women who were sleeping inside a burning duplex were rescued late Wednesday, Ann Arbor firefighters said. Ann Arbor police officers got the women out of the house, as firefighters battled the blaze that caused major damage to the properties in the 2900 block of St. Aubin, which is just south of Packard and west of Platt Road.- 12/9/11 We should cut the pay of these people, demand that when they retire they live only on SS!!!

Tony Livingston

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

Obviously, fire and police officers deserve a good retirement program. But, they should start getting it at retirement age which is 62, not 45. Most city employees that have been there for any time at all are eligible to receive pensions as early as 50 years old, and even younger for fire fighters. That is bankrupting the city.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

The feds changed their program years ago. Again it is the pension board that is messed up. Feds under old system are reduced if they double dip. Should be the same for the city.

r treat

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.



Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

Police and Fire employees do not receive Social Security.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Unless the majority of Ann Arbor voters remove the mayor and all of city council, replacing them with fiscally responsible personnel, we will see more waste of hard earned tax money. Yes the damage was done in years past, but someone should be held accountable for agreeing to pay pensions such as these. Almost criminal, if you ask me. You can tell that the whole bunch were spending our money – not their money.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

The fix will be painful...............I don't think we can handle it. No strong leadership and too many whiners..........


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

@clownfish ... where do you fall on the above list? These pensions + health benefits probably push these retirement packages to between $5 million to $10 million, and these are just average (hopefully) hard working people. This is unheard of in the private sector. And don't quote me the rare CEO that get's huge pension, that's the private sector not coming from taxpayers that make considerably less. Using this CEO argument, we could also say is a prof athlete makes $25 million per year why shouldn't everyone. Its ridiculous!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Council members and the mayor live in A2, and pay the same tax rates you do.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

I love how Taxpayers United targets government largess, but lets the bank CEOs-that received bailouts pay millions in bonuses and retirement pensions to people who personally brought our entire economy to its knees-go on without comment. I'm more worried about the millions being wasted there than the few hundred thousand being spent on retirement pensions in government.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:06 a.m.

nekm...So you believe that all these tycoons started with nothing and, through risk and hard work, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to become filthy rich, and that this is what capitalism is about? In my world, capitalism ties to democracy, which means there are limits on these clowns. These people start off with lots of money, and use it to gain unfair advantage over the rest of the people, so there is no level playing field in sight. There is just the power money folks, and the other 99% who have everything stacked against them. For evidence, I provide for you the U.S. and Michigan tax codes. You guys crack me up. If having our government, as well as our entire economy, owned by these robber barons is capitalism and is a good thing, then I guess I prefer democracy and fair play and a very different brand of capitalism. Capitalism does not mean brutality.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:53 p.m.

That is not my tax money (money from my income).. in my world you are either a business owner or the employee. as an employee, do the job and keep your mouth shut...or take the risk and become the employer. What part of capitalism don't you understand?

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

@Mike TUA does not pay their fair share or any share while they &quot;profit&quot;. Therefore, your share is that much higher.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

Your talking apples and oranges. As a taxpayer I am only interested in people I have to pay.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

Watch as the people that defend the top 1% go after these folks! They have told us in the past that high income earners &quot;create jobs&quot; via investment. Now they will backtrack and claim that people with good pensions( investment income) are a drag on the community. CEO's earn roughly 340 times the average worker, far beyond these pensions, but we will see no complaints here about that, no, we will be told to cut those peoples taxes. Maybe you get your private insurance from Allegiance Health: In 2010, Paul S. Viviano received $2,800,513 in total compensation. Maybe you think the OWS people are wack, and Wall Street is the place to look for guidance in fiscal matters: CEO of Bank of America; Mr. Moynihan will get a bonus of $9.05 million in the form of restricted stock, along with a base salary of $950,000, bringing his total pay to $10 million for 2010. Maybe you think unions are &quot;out of touch&quot; with average Joe and need to go union free to save us from pensions like this: Boeing CEO; In 2010, W. James McNerney Jr. received $19,740,023 in total compensation. What about those that retire from the private sector at the top? Nabors Industries' former CEO, Gene Isenberg, due $126 million when he exits as chairman, and IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, due $170 million. I know Bill Wheeler, he worked hard, did his community good service for decades and could have gone private for a larger paycheck for 30 years. He is not a thief, not greedy and should not be made a scapegoat for the class warfare being waged on the public sector by entertainers and pundits.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 4:31 a.m.

a2roots - You are misinformed. The pension system is not the culprit. The City is. I have no idea what your logic is. However, it is the City who approved a buyout several years ago that caused a great drain on pension funds. Approximately 150 left City employ with a 10% incentive to go. Totally the City's idea and the City's doing. The pension system has no say in what the City decides to do with its employees. Shortly after that came the crash.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

And your taxes paid for the public infrastructure like roads, airports, water/sewer systems, education, etc that those corporations used to make their profits and pay their CEO's million $$. They also paid lobbyists for tax loopholes that put the burden on average taxpayers like me.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

FORGET about the private sector! This is our money they are living off! Talk about a whiner!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:52 p.m.

Oooooh, NOW we don't like class warfare?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

This is not about individuals for me. It is about a system that is broke. As yet I have not read if it is fixed. The pension board is the culprit not the individual. Has the city made changes???????

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

@EyeheartA2. Yes you did. Pfizer got local property tax breaks when they were here. They left before the tax breaks expired.

hut hut

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

So, Bill Wheeler (and others), who worked very hard for the city for a very long time and worked his way up the ladder as is the American way, will not not be able to go anywhere without people without people being able to harass him. Thank you so much Christina Tobin and TUA.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

eyeheart, you picked up the balance when Pfizer was granted a city tax break. When you pay your FICA, some of that money goes to Pfizer to pay for drugs for Medicare/Aide patients. Money from the DoD goes to Pfizer to pay for drugs for veterans.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

I don't care about Pfizer. I never gave them a dime for their pensions. What was your point, exactly?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

Don't forget Hank McKinnell, former CEO of Pfizer who was removed after 5 years in that position. Pfizer stock drop 40% under his leadership, and that was as of 2006, well before the wall-street fueled present economic collapse. His tenure was also associated with the elimination of thousands of jobs. Yet McKinnell departed, as I recall, with a golden parachute worth about $200m. I'm sure he cried all the way to the bank. BUT WAIT...since he's in the top 1% of income earners, he MUST have been a &quot;job creator&quot;!!! Hah!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

The pension board screwed the tax payer by rewarding someone that &quot;busted his butt&quot;? I thought that is what one received in life when one busted ones butt for 30 years? if I understand the Whiners here, they expect the govt to hire better, more capable, harder working people, at less money with fewer benefits and lower retirement. Is that how it works in the private sector?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

I also know Bill and know he busted his butt. I am sure others did as well. However, the pension board certainly screwed the taxpayer and failed to adequately uphold their fiduciary responsibility. I do not blame an employee at all for getting what they can. Anyone in their shoes would probably do the same. Question is whether or not changes have been made to ensure payouts and benefits are within reason going forward. The feds made many changes years ago to ward off this same problem. Has the city?????


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

To quote Dark Helmet: &quot;Smoke if you got'em&quot;


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:18 p.m.

Please get a list by department. I only recognize 3 names of non fire or police department staff. Pretty crazy since they are the same ones busting the chops of the City over pay and benefits. Unlike Federal employees that never paid into social security and do not receive it, these folks did and will also get social security. If a federal employee retired under the old system and they double dip a reduction in benefits occurs but I am not sure how much. Do former city employees that double dip get any reduction in payout? My guess is no. I would also guess that most are double dippers. Throw this on the fire; how about reducing double dippers city payout.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

Police and fire do not pay into SS, a fact they have no choice about. Historically, the defined benefit pension was developed in lieu of SS.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

@Todd...All employees or just some. I worked for the city, was non union and did pay into social security.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:20 p.m.

FYI the employees do not pay into social security


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

@clf...There needs to be a way to limit the city payout. Not only will they receive ss but many go on to another job where they pull another pension. Bottom line is the pension board did a magnificent job for the pd and ff while screwing the taxpayer.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

I don't even care about the &quot;double dip&quot;. It's the $100K+ single dips that are problematic.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

So you think that if these people paid into SS for 30 years they should not get to draw on it?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

I'm not especially outraged because you can interpret this simply as a sign that Ann Arbor has had some very skilled employees in the past who negotiate for, and get, good compensation packages because they are worth the money in the employment **market**. Ann Arbor wants to have highly skilled employees, right? So let's man up and accept the consequences instead of whining.


Mon, Jan 2, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Brad, The Fire Department explicitly informed council and the manager that if Berlin's plan were to be implemented, union rules - that were already in place - would dictate these promotions in the fire department, and the likely consequence of that. So, basically it was okay for the manager to retire comfortably, but when the fire dept personnel reaped the same windfall - and it was a windfall for ALL of those who retired then - it became the fire department's responsibility. To make matters worse, the Fire Dept. was then villified over this and to this day are constantly put on the defensive. Seriously, it is embarrassing and shameful - the state of the relationship between the city and the fire department - as a result of this.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

you can't be serious. ..or you don't pay any taxes and are a freeloader yourself.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.

I appreciate that the sweetheart retirement deals were OK'd by Berlin and company, but I don't think that even they anticipated that games that would ensue at the fire department. That's the part that is especially irksome.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

Neil Berlin, former City Manager, who left just after crafting this &quot;game&quot;.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Brad, A &quot;game&quot; manufactured by Neil Berlin with the full knowledge of the city council.....


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Fred, I have been a highly skilled employee. The company's that I and others like myself worked for did not receive such lavish pay &amp; benefits. Frequently, when people make such arguments they us the word &quot;Talent&quot; which then said to be &quot;Hard to find&quot;. We all know this is a bunch of hooie. We are facing the consequences and the &quot;whining&quot;I believe is justified.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Another possibility is that the city has had incompetent leadership and extremely poor negotiation skills. And everyone that's lived here a while remembers when the Fire Department was playing their games as far as circulating people through positions simply to boost their retirement pay.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Please remember that on top of the pension fund payouts that these individuals receive, they also receive very valuable retirement healthcare benefits, too. While the city pension fund is *only* $57.6 million in the red, the city's &quot;retiree health care benefits plan and trust&quot; was 30.1 percent funded as of June 30, 2010, with $169.6 million in unfunded liabilities&quot;. The healthcare these individuals receive costs us taxpayers a lot of money, too. It's a shame that our city leaders have been so fiscally irresponsible with our money.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

Remember, health care benefits cease once medicare kicks


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

They should have laid them all off right before they were able to collect a pension. Just like they are doing now with the 911 dispatchers.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

I'm sorry. I should have put *sarcasm*. Yea it is cruel. And mayor Heifje just did it.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

That is not a very humane thing to do.

Les Gov

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

&quot;Total payouts for pensioners making above $100,000 could range from $3 million to $4 million in their lifetime, according to TUA's analysis&quot; what ever happen to this &quot;that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth&quot;? It seems things have changed. Changed to let the government take everything so that they can pay themselves $100,000 per year to sit at home leaving the non-government worker with nothing. I'm sure this is how things should work in Conan Smith's mind as he proposes new tax increases.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

Federal , state or local those who work out of your wallet tend to dig as deep as they can thank administrations and unions for the bite to your butt...

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

&quot;according to TUA's analysis, which assumes the individual retires at 55 and then receives benefits for another 30 years with modest cost of living adjustments.&quot; In the interest of accuracy I think a person who hits 55 has an additional life expectancy in the 26.7 year range rather than 30 years. &quot;On average, Powers said, 25 percent of the city's total pension benefits now in &quot;pay status&quot; are attributable to individual contributions plus interest.&quot; Does that mean 75% is funded by taxes collected from taxpayers?

Tony Livingston

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

Yes, one of the figures missing in this is the age at which people are starting to take their pensions. In the city of Ann Arbor, many start in their early 50s. That is the problem in my opinion. It adds many years to the pension obligation. Try to get a city council person to address this! They refuse.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

Why does TUA use 55 as their figure? Where is the data that shows this is indeed the actual number. Oh that's right, if you make the assumed age lower you can make the money seem larger. The numbers would be easy to figure out if they took the ACTUAL retirement ages of the people who receive this money, but that would not make the numbers.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

All public sector pensions need to move to 401K plans with a limited match by the government unit. Early in Roger Frasier's term as City Administrator, he took on the Fire Dept. Union to stop the overly generous pensions. Unfortunetly he could not undo prior agreements. Is the unamed Arizonia resident a former Ann Arbor city employee?


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

Why aren't local residents outraged? Do the math! There is no way a common person could save the kind of money that would be needed to pay oneself $60-$100,000 per year when you aren't working! Where are the Occupy folks? This isn't Wall Street, this is Main Street! How many of you in your 20's and 30's think this is some kind of &quot;free money&quot; that YOU won't be paying the rest of your lives...while you toil at a job paying European style payroll taxes somewhere in the 55% to 65% of your income! Wake up, and be outraged. These government employees are worse than Bernie Madoff with YOUR money? Where do you think the pension money comes from? These &quot;funds&quot; are so underfunded; the money will come from YOUR pocket - not some ambiguous pool of money somewhere!

Tony Livingston

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

It is not what they are making that matters so much, Johnnya2. It is the age that the pension starts. City employees can and do &quot;retire&quot; at age 50. That is 12 years added on to the common retirement age of 62. Move the age to begin receiving pensions up to 62, and things will get back in line.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

&quot;while you toil at a job paying European style payroll taxes somewhere in the 55% to 65% of your income!&quot; Really? Where does this data come from? If you are paying that, please provide proof. You can not because it is factually dishonest. Pensions are based on what you made while working. Why is that a bad thing? It is actually a part of the compensation you agreed to. Some of these people may not have taken the job for the salary they made if there were not a guaranteed pension when they retired. It helped the city save money in the present, to allow that person to have a large stable income later in life.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

55-65%? I don't think so.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:15 p.m.

I can identify a number of fire and police personnel on that list. - can you get us a breakdown by departments? $125K/yr retirement from the city? That's preposterous!


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : midnight

unless it was YOU


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.


Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:15 a.m.

Richard Kinsey? Richard Kinsey? Now why does that name sound familiar? &quot;Powers said it was an Arizona resident who sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Ann Arbor Employees' Retirement System recently, requesting names, salaries and pension, information presumably on behalf of TUA&quot; Thanks to the Arizona resident and TUA for their investigative journalism. Scooped once again!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Probably a fellow retiree in Arizona.