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Posted on Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

Roger Fraser will receive 'a very nice pension' after nine years as Ann Arbor's top administrator

By Ryan J. Stanton

Roger Fraser made more than $156,400 a year on average during his three highest-paid consecutive years of service as Ann Arbor's city administrator, city records show.

Factoring out sick pay and factoring in credit for his military service, he could receive a pension worth more than $41,000 annually when he retires at the end of this month after nine-plus years as Ann Arbor's top administrator, according to an analysis of city records. He also will be eligible for lifetime health insurance benefits.

"Unfortunately I wasn't a firefighter," Fraser told in an interview. "When I started here, one of the firefighters retired making more than I made as a city administrator."


City Administrator Roger Fraser will receive what Mayor John Hieftje calls "a very nice pension" when he retires this month.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Fraser, who earns a base salary of more than $145,000 as Ann Arbor's top administrator, also receives a pension from his former job in Blaine, Minnesota, where he worked as city manager from 1996 until he came to Ann Arbor in April 2002.

Fraser eventually could be eligible for retirement benefits from the state of Michigan, too. Starting next month, he'll be making $131,000 a year as deputy state treasurer.

The city won't officially calculate Fraser's pension until after he leaves, said Tom Crawford, Ann Arbor's chief financial officer and a pension board member. But Fraser, who turned 65 last month, acknowledged in an interview he's figured it out to be "a little bit more than $3,000 a month."

Based on calculations done by, Fraser could be eligible for a pension somewhere north of $3,400 a month. Records show he paid $12,719 to be able to factor a year and nine months of military service time into his calculation. has been seeking information from the city and its retirement system since Fraser announced his pending retirement at the end of February. In response to Freedom of Information Act requests, the city provided with records showing Fraser's total income for each of the last nine years, as well as other records.

Fraser's pension will be calculated based on the average of his three highest-paid consecutive years multiplied by his total years of service and a 2.5 percent multiplier.

City records show Fraser's three highest consecutive years were 2006, 2007 and 2008, when he made $150,945, $158,513 and $159,772, respectively. But about $10,482 of that was sick pay that the city's pension ordinance says can't be factored into the calculation.

Due to banked vacation time payouts and other cash bonuses awarded by the Ann Arbor City Council, Fraser was able to boost his pay significantly in recent years, records show. For instance, he collected $12,858 in bonuses on top of his $145,354 base salary in 2007.

He made another $10,482 on top of his base salary in 2008 by cashing in 150 hours of banked sick time while also getting a $3,634 cash bonus. He made about $159,772 in 2008, the most he was paid in all of his nine years as city administrator, records show.

In 2010, Fraser cashed in 120 hours of banked vacation time and was paid an extra $8,386 on top of his base salary, boosting his pay to $154,041, records show.

Fraser pointed out he hasn't seen a change in his base salary since 2006 and many of the cash bonuses he received in recent years were provided in lieu of pay raises.

Crawford said Fraser's exact pension won't be known until after his last day of work.

The city's pension ordinance allows lump sum payments paid upon retirement for accumulated time to be included in the calculation. Fraser, if he receives any kind of significant cash payout when he leaves, could potentially include lump sum payments for up to two years of vacation time, accumulated comp time and up to 32 hours of personal leave time.

But city records show Fraser's pension likely will be calculated based on income from 2006, 2007 and 2008 instead of his final three years.

Fraser sits on the board of trustees for the city's retirement system. In 2005, a blue ribbon committee formed by the mayor and City Council issued a report recommending changes in the makeup of the board, including removing the city administrator, citing concerns that a majority of the nine board members were direct beneficiaries of the retirement system.

The report also recommended the city consider switching from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. Mayor John Hieftje said the City Council never took action to implement those recommendations because it would cost several million dollars up front, and the city isn't in a hiring mode so it doesn't make sense. As for the composition of the board, he said changing that would require a voter-approved amendment to the city charter.

Based on a recommendation by Fraser and the pension board, the City Council voted in January on changes to the city's pension ordinance to establish a "pension adjustment account" to fund future cost-of-living adjustments for city retirees.

Cost-of-living increases were discretionary before, but now retirees, including Fraser, are guaranteed a boost in their pension every July 1, after they've been retired for five years, so long as the pension system is fully funded and meeting financial performance targets. It's about 90 percent funded right now after a dive in the financial markets, but is building back up.

Most city employees are eligible for pensions at age 60 with five or more years of service, or at age 50 with 25 or more years of service. Firefighters and police officers can collect at age 55 with five or more years of service or after 25 years of service regardless of age.

Hieftje, who is not in line for a pension as mayor, said he thinks Fraser is going to receive "a very nice pension" and it's well-deserved.

"Roger has served the city well in the worst decade for city finances since the 1930s," Hieftje said. "When you step back and look at the big picture and you look at the pension an employee is going to get, for a person like Roger, that's always been there and was part of his package when he was hired. It takes a highly talented individual to run a $300 million business, which in some ways is what the city is. If Roger was the CEO of a $300 million company, he'd probably be making much more and have stock options."


A look at Roger Fraser's total pay reported as income since he was hired in as Ann Arbor's city administrator on April 8, 2002.

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.



Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 11:03 a.m.

This is just disgusting. This guy is getting a pension that one would not receive in the private sector for just over 9 years of service. I won't bother with his commentary about the retired firefighter. He is just looking to deflect from what he knows is his greed. Roger Fraser, you are greedy.


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

He was overpaid and his proposed pension benefits are nothing short of a disgrace, especially given the suffering of so many local residents due to the economy.


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 1:57 a.m.

It is time for our city council to make a public condemnation of Frasers disgraceful firefighter remarks. That is assuming they find this as petty as the rest of the city does,as for the mayors if he was the C E O of a large company if the queen had you know what she would be king. Tom Maguire proud father of an AA firefighter and policeman


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 1:30 a.m.

Several people have mentioned short memory on Fraser. Is checking to see if Fraser does have a memory loss problem or condition?


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

What an amazingly unprofessional comment for Fraser to make. Not surprising though how he has been preaching that everyone needs to be on a budget diet and he has his hand fully into the cookie jar. Another classic example how the people at the top are able to reward themselves with bonuses and fight every effort for citizens to see what is really going on. Shame on the mayor for his ignorant comments also. Neither of these two people actually do the jobs that make Ann Arbor the safe and clean city that it is. The people doing all the actual work are the ones always being attacked by these two while they pad Fraser's benefits. Either Fraser is the biggest hypocrite or he has Alzheimer's.     If Fraser is the type of person that Snyder wants then he has lost all of my support and I will work to oppose his run for re-election. Shame on you also Mr. Snyder.

Jay Thomas

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:49 p.m.

Pensions are outdated and defined benefit pensions a gun to the head of taxpayers. Public employees should be in the same boat as the rest of us saving for retirement.


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

The rest of you like who? Auto workers? Nope, they get a pension. UM employees? Nope, they get a pension. Small business owner? uh, that was your choice pal.....

Roger Roth

Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

No, everyone should be in the same boat as public employees. You are buying into the propaganda. Everyone deserves to benefit with a living pension from years of hard work, in any sector. But the conservatives would have us believe that the only ones entitled to such a retirement are the wealthy. They want to privatize all retirement plans so that those controlling them, manipulating them, can tell retirees when the time comes, "Sorry, things didn't work out the way we planned for you..." People who like that kind of system should go ahead and have it. The wealthy, who don't need a retirement plan, won't care. Middle class people have to shed decades of brainwashing and realize that in a country as wealthy as this one is, they're entitled to live comfortably in retirement if they kept their noses to the grindstone for 25 or 30 years. And I certainly wouldn't trust some private financial firm to guarantee me that. If you would, be my guest!


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:40 p.m.

Is it true County Commissioners get healthcare benefits for part time work?????????????????

Roger Roth

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

Roger was smart! Like Rick. He saw an opportunity and took it. It's so American! Why resent Roger for being smart? Now what he should hope for is a long, long, long retirement--on the public dole. God Bless America! Roger could have gone with the private sector, seen his job shipped overseas, his pension evaporate along with his health insurance and maybe end up losing his home. Instead, he probably thought, "I could go with the private sector, but, knowing how socially irresponsible our corps. are and how workers are just chopped liver in the minds of their employers, and how it's highly likely that our pro-corp. fed. gov. will probably help corps. with their anti worker agenda and with fattening their CEO's paychecks, I probably should opt for the public sector, you know, like being a congress person or something like that, and thereby insure my future, with a public pension, a wonderful health insurance program and all the glitz and glamor that goes with such jobs. Furthermore, I could probably retire early enough that I could sign on for another public sector job and maybe even get another public pension." I think this is genius and I, for one, Roger, applaud you for making the decision to serve the public, something anyone could opt for but relatively few do, and working the system just about as well as anyone in management in the private sector, in the banking industry and on Wall Street, seeing it through--not always easy--and now, reaping the rewards. Good for you!!! I hope you live another 50 years! I think we should all admire Roger for succeeding. Isn't the American Dream defined by success? Roger realized the Dream. This is the basis of all life in this country. There are books written about this. Songs composed. Movies. What's this resentment stuff?


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:48 p.m.

The American others expense? That is not genius; it's called being a crook. He is no metter than the Kwamster. See where that got him?

Dog Guy

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

Thank you, SillyTree, for "You people don't seem to understand that it is the teachers that are the problem." As a tax-parasitic teacher, I joy in scamming the rubes-with-PhD's of Ann Arbor. The outcry of disbelief from the super-intelligent at discovering not only present "perfectly legal" theft, but also the rich pension, is music to a public servant's ears. Feel free to attend our retirement testimonial dinners, which are not free to you.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:44 p.m.

Public sector pensions are being paraded in the media. While large individual pensions are not being directly compared with the meager pensions of certain trades such as teachers and firefighters, they are being presented in parallel and there is a such thing as guilt by association. Teachers, firefighters, police, et al, need either to solidify or all be at each other's throats in a bid for survival. That bid will fail without solidarity. That is what I meant.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

I hope you know I was being facetious.

Roger Roth

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.



Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:13 p.m.

I have a family member worked for the school system, some of them as a teacher, for more than 25 years and won't be making anywhere near what Fraser is making after nine years plus she has a plan with no COLA. This person frequently paid out of pocket for materials to do her job. Yes, I guess the economy is all the fault of the greedy teachers and other unionized school employees. Plus, those greedy firefighters and police officers. Weren't they were the ones that wiped out half of the private sectors' retirement that were in 401Ks then took trillions in TARP money from the taxpayers? Oh, wait! I think that was some "other group." There seems to be a connection between those politicians who are trying to bust the unions and that "other group". They all know how to work the system, not serve others. Wake up, people! the unionized teachers, firefighters, and police officers are not the problem. The top politician wheeler-and-dealers and the "other group." is.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

Your aticle should be entitled, Hello Pot, its me Kettle referring to Roger and his comment about the firefighters anc their pensions. Does he really not see what a hypocrite he is?!! Or maybe he can't remember his words the past few years similar to Ronald Reagan?? The City's pension system should be changed to only allow employees with 20+ years to receive the full benefits of the system. A ten to twenty year prorated vesting is more consistent with today's actuarials. Say what you want about the firefighters -- at least they stay employed with the city for their full careers to earn their benefits over 25 to 30 years. The city's last 5 city administrators and their top appointees (Carol Schuler in HR, Tom Crawford in Finance, Sue McCormick in Public Services, B Jones in Police, etc.) worked or will work less than 20 years and get full healthcare for life. Most of them worked for the city less than 10 years!!! And some of them are receiving pensions from other entities. Double dipping should not be allowed. Just a few ideas to get the city back on track. In the meantime, his departure from Ann Arbor is being celebrated! Wait, that's right.......he never lived in Ann Arbor. Now he will be triple dipping from the state. God help us!!!!


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

Most union jobs you must have 85 points( Age plus seniority ) to be even eligible to retire . Definatel not 9 years. You would have to have 10 years just to freeze your seniority until retirement age to get just a small amount of retirement pay.But to retire after 9 years with the benefits is rediculous and poke fun of the fireman. I would be willing to bet that a fireman couldn't even retire with just 9 years service.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

You people don't seem to understand that it is the teachers that are the problem.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

Does divide and conquer mean anything to anyone?


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

Well, this type of thing will go on whether you like it or not. The "elected" officials in this country feel entitled and don't give a squat about you or you family. The only thing that will stop this would be revolution. Unfortunately we can't do that because American Idol is on tonight and we don't want to miss our mind-numbing sessions, I mean entertainment.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

Why shouldn't people despise the notion of a pension? In almost every case it is a promise made by people with no skin in the game and backed by people who more often than not aren't even old enough to vote at the time the promise is made. It's a pyramid scheme in every sense of the word and everyone knows it. Retirements should be based on defined contribution plans, period.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

Well, Mr. Fraser, unfortunately I wasn't a city administrator. Because I retired after almost 30 years of service from a union position (yes, one of those union contracts that you claim is responsible for the dreadful state of the city's finances) and I do not make $41,000 a year. The remark about the firefighter's pay and failing to mention the deal that allowed this no longer exists serves one purpose, to shine the spotlight elsewhere and hopefully distract the taxpayers away from the fact that their elected officials were the ones that afforded you this outrageous deal. Oh, and by the way Mr. Mayor, I too, served the city well during this so-called worst financial decade--and I was there the one before that, and the one before that too. In my world it's called doing your job you're paid for.

Roger Roth

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

Pensions make people mad. knows that. Hence this article. I'm going to get a Psych degree and open an office in Ann Arbor. My specialty will be helping people with Pension Anger/Envy. First visit is free. Then, $200/50 minutes. Sorry about the high fee; my 401K will be expensive. Not to worry, though, you pensioner haters. This is all going to go away with privatization. Be patient. Also, not to rile you up even more, but are you aware there are some out there on 2 public employee pensions--plus Social Security? 3 pensions??? Deeeeespicable!!!!!!!!! Disssssssssgusting!!!!!

Tony Livingston

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

I don't have any problem with a pension. But, it is deisgned for retirement, not enriching yourself while working at another job. Move the age to 62 and the majority of the problem will be solved.

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 6 p.m.

"Kind of off topic, but if Ann Arbor has a City Administrator running things, why does it need to pay a Mayor and City Council too? Sounds like there are a bunch of people doing a one person job." BINGO. Time to cut the current Mayor's pay in HALF, as well as Council. Oh never mind, he's probably just get another 'part time' U of M gigs for a few hours a year and be just fine. And then cut a deal to pay them a million bucks for 'right of way' rights to build a bridge in front of Michigan Stadium. When this happens in Detroit the DOJ is called in to investigate.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

Ahh... public employees... the new American royalty. We can look forward to the marriage of Fraser's children to the scions of the Middleton family across the pond.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

Question - Do the pension and health insurance payments start now or when he turns 65?


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

RTFA. He turned 65 last month


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

Southern California city of Bell. Here we go again!

Dominick Lanza

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

Roger Fraser neglect to tell you that the firefigter worked 25 years and for many of those years the city couldnt afford to pay for overtime so they made a deal. They paid the firefighters two hours comp time for every hour overtime because as they are now the city short staffed the fire department. So when the firefighter retired they cashed in those comp hours and added to their retirement. That deal isnt in place anymore. Mr Fraser also mentions payout for comp time as a salaried employee one doesnt earn comp time if you work overtime you work for free or so I was told. If I was supposed to be getting comp time the city owes me some money. Mr Fraser earned his retirement like any city employee but he shouldnt get anything other salaried employees or his contract calls for. He likes to point at the employees but he enjoys the same benefits including free health care for life. To bad he wasnt a firefighter perhaps he'd know what its like year to year to worry about being laid off.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 1:51 a.m.

Lanza... question... In the incident I saw, more equipment was needed and more people may have been needed to handle the incident (before it was passed to UofM DPS). Why don't you take that incident and talk about it? Because... from my understanding of it, it was a clear case where more AAFD people and more AAFD equipment would have been needed? I think it would help your cause? Wouldn't it?

Kai Petainen

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

Lanza...with a sincere gratitude.... thank you for the work that you did. The AAFD did a wonderful job when I saw them in action. Your records of the event that I saw are much more thorough than any other department that responded that day, and the work they did was professional and hard to do. I'd say more but I'll probably get censored on here. I'd just like you to know that I am thankful and I wish others knew what the AAFD did that day to help Ann Arbor. If they knew what you did and how you helped, perhaps they too would see what good I saw that day.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Good points, Mr Lanza. rock!


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

I thought that a pension was for putting in a distinguished number of years of service, a milestone, etc.,..., such as for 25 or 30 years, or something like that? 9 years isn't really a milestone. And, yet the pension is the same amount as if he'd really achieved something. Are people getting pensions these days just for showing up for work for a few years, nowadays? I thought that that is what payroll was for? I say that he shouldn't get a pension at all. Besides, it's coming out of the taxpayer's pockets. That money could be used for better city services; not to pay someone who isn't even working for the city, anymore. He made a lot of money. Why can't he just move on and leave us alone, and not take any more of our taxpayer money? Why do our city leaders go to such extremes to benefit this one person? It seems "below board," in my opinion. I also think that his "firefighter" comment is a cause for concern. In my opinion, when people in authority make "flippant" comments about another group of people at their expense, it's not a "joke."


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

I think that the time has come to reevaluate the idea of Pension's. The fact that a person can work for the City of Ann Arbor for 9 years, then leave and receive a pension for this amount is no difference in the article about the "Huge BOnus " program that everyone was upset about with Boarders. Years ago, the Public employee received a income below most others. Today, that has changed. Most make at or above with the benefits figured in! And remember where this income comes from. each of us tax payers.!! Most people no longer receive pensions. Most companies have eliminated them. it is up to the individual to take care of them self and there retirement. This is really as it should be. If the pensions were eliminated, would the City of Ann Arbor be in a the financial condition they are at this time. How much does the City pay out each year in Pensions! Seems to be only the Public Employees think that they are Entitled to this Benefit. BOth City, County and State, and Federal Did you know that these groups do not pay in to SS !!! I think if every Public Employee paid into the SS system, we would not have the shortfall that is constantly being talked about. I know that am jumping into different areas here but I think this is all related! I know of 1 person that has worked for the County, Worked to the Township and now works for the Huron MEtro p[ark System, he will receive 3 pensions when he is finished, Is this right, I say no!!!

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

Have you people considered the cost for poor Mr. Fraser to do his tax return when his accountant has to crunch numbers from 3 different pensions? Have some sympathy folks.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

Not a single firefighter made the top pay list. We are under constant threat of layoff. We are under attck by the city administrators office, the Mayor and the press. Why would you want to be a firefighter Roger?


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

I have no problem with Mr Fraser getting a pension, if it was negotiated as part of his contract. The City agreed to it and should honor the contract. Where I have trouble with this is that Fraser has blasted all the union contracts that have the same provisions and wanting to negate what has been bargained for and agreed to by all parties. It sounds like "Do as I say and not as I do". Mr Fraser if your sincere about setting a new path for unions to follow.....walk away without any compensation. Doubt that happens!

Dog Guy

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

He who dies with the most toys wins.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Kind of off topic, but if Ann Arbor has a City Administrator running things, why does it need to pay a Mayor and City Council too? Sounds like there are a bunch of people doing a one person job.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

Simply disgusting and a slap in the face, no, more like a punch in the face to all taxpayers. Good Day


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

That comment just shows his hatred for the fire department. He has been attacking te FD thru the press for 9 years and when the table is turned he still tries to point a finger at the firefighters. The firefighters took a pay cut did you Mr. Fraser? This war on the FD is clearly personal to him and citizens should consider that when they look at the proposed cuts he has made. It's a personal vendetta and has nothing to do with budgets and he doesn't care about your safety. He just wants to cut the FD to prove a point and win.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

. . . absolutely disgusting. Change that startles the mind is coming.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

This just confirms by belief that in many locations public employees are feeding at the trough of tax payer money. Nowhere in the private sector can you work for 10 years at this pay scale and get a $41,000 pension and lifetime health care. After years and years of fiscal irresponsibility in regards to salaries, benefits it's no wonder the city is in financial trouble.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

Actually you are very wrong on this. i am vested with a pension in the private secotr for a company that I have not worked for since 2002. I am scheduled to receive about $800 per month after working for them for 8 years. I can collect at 62 NO MATTER WHAT. If I take another job, or not I get the pension. Many upper level managerial types get this in the private sector as well. I hate when people compare private sector to public sector on some things but not others. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME, and should not be.

Tony Livingston

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

Actually, it is not uncommon to be "vested" after 10 years. The difference is you have to wait until retirement age to collect. In other words, the money sits there until you are eligible to begin collecting. Currently, we are paying these people for a 12 year vacation if they retire and begin collecting at age 50.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

"if Roger was a CEO of a #300 million dollar company, he'd probably make more and have stock options". Let's see... he was like a CEO since he ran the city. Only in 10 years, he increased revenues by $40 Million and cut employees by 25%. Yet, they claim the city doesn't have any money? What CEO would still be allowed to prosper in that organization? If I threw $30 Million out the window, I don't think I'd get a pension after only 9 years. In Fact, I don't think I'd still be employed. But guess what??? Now he's going to the STATE to practice that same kind of leadership.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

I agree 100% with cash and bornnraised. The magician we call the city admin., has nothing good to say about safety services, yet rakes in all the benefits while trying to be inconspicuous. Then says he has not said a raise since 2006. Bonuses are income anyway you look at it. Why doesn't he give back those to say I'm taking a pay cut?


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

This is insanity! Nobody deserves that high a pension and lifetime health benefits after only nine years of service. Taxpayers in Ann Arbor are being soaked to pay for all these pensions. They may all be legal, but really it is a form of corruption to provide pensions that are so contrary to the will of the citizens. The tax burden is so high that many people live in the townships rather than the city. I personally know people that have moved out of the city just to get away from the high taxes. When lower tax rates are combined with lower assessments it seems that township folks are paying at least 40% less in taxes.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

Now we know why the City had not yet gone to arbitration to change the retirement health care. had to wait for Rog to get his. Now we will see some action!


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 9:53 a.m.

The mayor has been there longer than Fraser. He will get his own pension.

Tony Livingston

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

This is the problem. Everybody at city hall is getting this kind of a deal. Therefore, there is no incentive to change it. The council does not seem to have the courage to address it.

Tony Livingston

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

I would love to see reveal ALL of the city employees who are under age 62 who are receiving pensions and health insurance. That would really let the cat out of the bag and show everyone where our tax dollars are going and why the city government is cutting services. This is crazy. The purpose of retirement pension is to support workers in their old age. It is not to make them wealthy while they are off working elsewhere. There is no reason to give retirement pensions to anyone who is under age 62.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

@20/20. Why is a 44 year career considered to be outrageous in your mind? Do you really think that setting a standard where people only work roughly 1/3 of their lives is going to be sustainable long term? The math doesn't work out when you've got too few people working to support everyone else who is not. Frankly, nobody should be getting a pension, firemen included. They are a pyramid scheme and an unreasonable promise to make on the backs of people who aren't even old enough to vote at the time those promises are made. Retirements should be funded by defined contribution plans and retirement age should be based on when each individual determines for themselves that they've put enough away to pay their own way based on the lifestyle they want at retirement. If a person scrimps, saves, and maxes out his savings rate each year and can AFFORD (keyword) to retire at the age of 45, then more power to them. If a person parties it up, ignores his responsibilities, saves nothing for his future, and ends up working into his 80's, then that's the path they chose.

Tony Livingston

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

I didn't say they have to keep working. I said they should be 62 before collecting. Do you realize how many people are being paid to NOT work in the city of Ann Arbor? At the same time we are paying others to actually do the work. If they want to quit and do something else, fine. But they should not be able to collect pension until they are at the normal retirement age of 62. It is called vesting and is very common in other professions (union and non union).

Basic Bob

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

@20/20, Most people born after 1960 are expected to work until they are 67, although they can elect to receive 70% (!) of their social security at age 62. By your calculation, that is 49 years of work. Hopefully not all of that is in a physically challenging job such as a firefighter. Some of that time should be washing dishes or greeting people at Walmart.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

Sounds like he's saying you'll be wealthy too! Wow... thanks for the heads up. I'll wait for my wealth to come rolling in.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:18 p.m.

So what you are saying is: If you become a firefighter at 18 years of age, you have to work for 44 years before getting a retirment pension.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

Very nice Mayor Hieftje, "if Roger was a CEO of a #300 million dollar company, he'd probably make more and have stock options". Well he's not, because his CHOSEN profession was to be a city administrator. He didn't chose to run a company like Gateway and make millions and have stock option, like our poor Governor who is only working for $1 per year. I personally do not have a problem with his retirement payment with the exception of full medical after serving only 9 years. That's the issue! I believe police and firefighters have to work approx: 25 years to recieve full medical, which at that point is well deserved, after serving their community in their given chosen profession. I never have and never will like hypocritical people. Mr. Fraser feels it's ok to get a full medical pension after only 9 years, but he wants the police and firefighter's pay towards theirs, after working 25 years. Nice! The scary part is, he is now going to work for the State of Michigan, and get another pension, while putting the screws to the middle class, poor, and senior citizens.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

Is this part of organized Crime? After working for 9 years for one of the largest employers in the US, my pension is no where near the percentage of my salary that he is getting. I am getting about 1/8 of my salary but he is getting almost 1/3.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

You may not know that the multiplier isn't the same for all public workers. The teachers that everyone talks about being the cause of all our woes, have a 1.5 multiplier. Plug that number into Fraser's pension calculation and you will see how the multiplier is the real determiner to the final pension. There is another factor that might have slipped by you and that is how the final three years salary used in the calculation is arrived at by adding in the bonuses, banked sick time, banked vacation time - all of which are added to the best three years section of the calculation determining the final pension payout. Again just so you know the difference between the teacher's pension calculation - NONE of that list is used to pad the calculation to determine their pensions.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

You do realize that teachers in our state getting Social Security as compared to police officers and firefighters who don't, isn't the positive that it seems on the surface? To explain, lets take the example of my wife and myself who are both retired teachers. She taught in Toledo Ohio while I taught in Michigan. We both made almost the same exact wages but in Ohio teachers weren't in Social Security so she never paid FICA taxes which meant her take home pay was higher than mine for 30 years. Both of us started teaching after getting our degrees so when we retired I had to use the 1.5 multiplier while she had the 2.5 multiplier same as our police and firefighters. That 2.5 multiplier has the same effect as getting both your pension and Social Security regardless of age! But I, on the other hand, received only my pension because I wasn't 62 yet (the age of reduced payments from S.S.). Getting the 2.5 multiplier had the effect of receiving full, not reduced S.S., the first month of her retirement which was well before age 67! Keep in mind that she also never had to pay the FICA tax either which is the same as police and firefighters. So now you have a clearer picture of what the difference is.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

Awakened, actually most police officers and firefighters do receive Social Security. My own father was a career firefighter who besides his pension did get Social Security. The way it works is police officers and firefighters on their days off have a second job that contributes to Social Security that way as soon as they have their 40 quarters in they qualify. Also, I really can't name any police officers and firefighters who didn't double dip.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

For the record, as the story states, sick pay is backed out.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

Do teachers get Social Security? Police officers and firefighters do not.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

Yes, Roger was quite the stand up employee. Bashing city employees with little digs at every opportunity. Hiding his salary, even though it's public record, and making the city residents pay to fight a FOIA request to release it. BTW, the firefighter comment he's talking about was from LONG ago and that was a system that was created by the former Administrator. He fails to acknowledge all the other city employees that took that pension opporunity with the city ASKED employees to. But he LOVES to make the FD look bad in the public eye. Oh, we we have to work 25 years to get the type of payout he's getting. That's not 25 years sitting behind a desk. Not even 9 years sitting behind a desk. Oh, and thanks for being a stand up leader when demanding all employees take pay cuts, then getting 'bonuses' to make up the difference from your check.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

I see three big problems with that pension. One, that seems overly generous for nine years of service. City Administrators typically change jobs every 7-10 years, meaning you could end up with three or four different pensions after a working career. If you only work 1/3 a normal work life, you should only get 1/3 of a normal pension. Will he be eligible for social security too? Second, guaranteed, fully paid health benefits is part of the reason health care costs continue to rise at double digit percentages. We should be willing to pay something for a retiree's future health care (again, 1/3 of 'something' in this case), but isn't he going to be eligible for medicare? Finally the article says two different things about cost of living adjustments. A cost of living adjustment goes down in deflation, or doesn't change if prices don't change significantly. Social Security just went two years without any COLA, because there wasn't enough inflation to warrant an increase. It sounds like the AA pension system guarantees an increase regardless, as long as the city's investments are doing well. If that sounds minor, see what it looks like after a few years of deflation. Overall, looks like too nice a deal.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

we all knew working for the government was fruitful when retirement time come.Frasers deal just shows most of us are in the wrong line of work.i think regular people should get to switch places with politicians and their apointees at retirement time.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

Agree with Cash, Doug and Blue -- His comment regarding the firefighters is disgusting. Extra bonuses for administrators, and lay offs for those who protect the city. Maybe I missed something, but do city employees contribute any funds to their retirement? If so, how much? Thanks.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

Please more articles like this. Show some examples @ the County and Township levels. Oh, show school districts as well. $41K for nine years service, this is daylight robbery in progress. It is our fault for not paying attention. WHO IS JOHN GALT????????


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.

Well, the best part the article says he is eligible for "lifetime" health benefits. So let me get this straight... he works behind a desk and is recommending our police and fire take concessions on their health benefits? (Yet he exits the city taking a nice pension and lifetime healthcare ) Not only that, he recommends to move forward with a budget that includes cuts ( layoffs) to police and fire ( that are already cut to the bone.) Doesn't anyone else find it disturbing that someone recommending huge cuts/ layoffs to the city budget and faulting unions for not taking concessions will be skating away with such a sweet deal.


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 4:04 a.m.

Your point is right on but that is how things are today. I work for a local public utility and the unions get raises every year as do the top dogs but I as a front line supervisor have not had a raise in four years. The rich get richer and ....


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

I find this very disturbing -- there is no way he should be granted lifetime health insurance -- all the rest of us retirees (non-city) contribute to our health insurance.

Hot Sam

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

Public employees, from the president on down, should be on social security starting yesterday. That we are allowing these people to to give tings to themselves that are not available to all is insane. The vanguards of the proletariat...


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

"If Roger was the CEO of a $300 million company, he'd probably be making much more and have stock options." Yeah, if we all were CEO's of a $300 million company we'd all be just fine too.


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 2:45 a.m.

With Roger's talents he would likely be working in the mail room of a $300 million company.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : noon

He should apply at Borders.

Doug Gross

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:41 a.m.

Roger Fraser's Pension is just the tip of the iceberg. General employees receive a 2.5% multiplier and can retire at age 60 with five years of service or age 50 with 25 years. Police and Fire retirees receive a 2.75% accrual rate, and contributions of as much as 30% of wages a year are needed to fund benefits for a retiree with minimum retirement eligibility. Retirees make a flat 5% contribution each year, leaving the City to pick up the rest of the tab. In the private sector, employers are not putting 20% plus of wages into a retirement plan each year! More typical is a match of some part of employee contributions up to 3-5% of wages. The pension is amazing but the lifetime healthcare may be what is really ruining the system. When people retire in their early 50's the city's pays the full cost of healthcare for an employee until 65 when Medicare starts to pick up some of the tab. Ann Arbor is keeping up with these increasing costs is by cutting jobs. Since 2001 the City has gone from over 1,000 to around 750 full-time employees, while annual covered payroll has increased over the same period. In other words, Ann Arbor citizens are paying more for less, due to the rapid growth of retirement benefit costs. Here is the change in the required contributions to the pension plan from 2005 to 2009. Required contributions went from $1.04 million to $6.89 million dollars a year. Imagine how many more employees we could have if we were not putting another $5 million a year into the pension program annually! When Governor Snyder comes up with a proposal to reform pension benefits in the state, people will be kicking and screaming about how unfair it is. If a city employee complains about why their child can't get a job with the city they only need to look in the mirror and realize the retirement benefits they are getting are why their child does not have a job. We need to provide for retirees, just not to the extent we are today. Douglas Gross,

Tony Livingston

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

Use the current retirement calculations to allow a person to be "vested". If they want to quit and work elsewhere, they are free to do that. But, they cannot begin collecting retirement benefits until age 62. That would solve it.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:34 a.m.

Sorry I meant to say that his NOT being honest. Quite a big difference!


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

That's okay...I read it as sarcastic! LOL


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:34 a.m.

The Tea Party keeps looking better all the time.

Moscow On The Huron

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Seventh comment down before you introduced that garbage. You're slipping.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

Be assured Roger is a charter member.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:31 a.m.

Roger Fraser is being honest when he says "Unfortunately I wasn't a firefighter," Fraser told in an interview. "When I started here, one of the firefighters retired making more than I made as a city administrator." His first year on the job was not a full year and he made $92,088. He worked less than 2,000 hrs, based on his next years salary, probaly quite a bite less. In order for the firefighter to make more than that he had to have worked huge amounts of overtime, probably approaching 1,000 hrs a year during his best three years. Added to the 2,900 hrs that he's already scheduled for thats nearly 4,000 hrs a year. Now everyone in the state gets to enjoy his deceptions.

Joseph Lewis

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:13 a.m.

""Unfortunately I wasn't a firefighter," Fraser told in an interview. "When I started here, one of the firefighters retired making more than I made as a city administrator."" That's just an offensive statement!


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

It was definitely a poorly-worded comment, however the point he was trying to make - that a RETIRED firefighter was making more than an ACTIVE city administrator for a good-sized city - seems like a valid one.

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:44 a.m.

Can't wait for the Mayor and his political hack buddies to propose naming the new Police Courts building for this arrogant, failed political hack. He should be ridden out of town on a rail. And thanks for all this investigative reporting now that Fraser is leaving. Where was it when he was employed? The quotes here completely show what an airhead, inept political leader our Mayor is too. Oh we're not hiring people so why change the pension plan that was proposed in 2005? It's called leadership, something you are apparently clueless about unless it involves riding bikes, hugging trees, posing with giant puppet heads or selling out to your part time 'employer', the U of M. Sounds like he would be more at home in Rick Snyder's political party.


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

Dont forget Councilperson Marcia Higgins and Circuit Court Judge Timothy Connors who have both drawn handsome salaries as U-M employees whle holding public office. I like the idea of a Vada Murray Building but let's name the restrooms after Roger Fraser - since he is adept at flushing taxpayer dollars down the toilet.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

Awesome idea, but naming it after Vada wouldn't score anybody any political points, so it won't happen.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

It should be named the Vada Murray building.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:44 a.m.

So, wait a minute. You're telling me that after NINE years of service that he's going to get a pension of over $41,000/year with lifetime health benefits? To top that off he's going to work for the State, which is currently fighting to get pensions all but taken away? I guess the difference is that he's upper class, not a firefighter, not a teacher, not a police officer, not a member of any union, and a member of government. But in all fairness about the firefighter comment, he does face a lot of risks on a day to day basis. Sitting in a chair all day has a tendency to cause hemorrhoids, typing on a computer all day increases your risk of carpal tunnel, and imagine the number of papercuts he's received in his career!


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:39 a.m.

How dare Snyder consider taxing his public pension? He'll barely be able to have a second home in Fla where he can run to declare residency...


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 10:19 a.m.

Money aside..... ' "Unfortunately I wasn't a firefighter," Fraser told Ann in an interview. ' As though it was a disgrace that someone who saves lives should come close to HIS financial rewards. Yes, Roger. Sitting behind a desk with your coffee cup, being Ann Arbor's chief puppet master is on a par with walking into a burning building and saving lives. (sarcastic font on) To the very end, this man shows the most disgusting disrespect to the people most people admire the most.....those who risk their lives for others. Arrogance and disrespect for the bravest of our community....just what we need in Lansing. It's horrifying to know a person with this mentality is now going to have even more power at the state level. Heaven help us.


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

I like you Cash. That is all.