Jay Weber Show transcript 4-29-21 6:40am
How screwed up does Tom Barrett have the City of Milwaukee’s budget and pension obligations?
So screwed up that city council members have just been told that they’re going to have to fire, like, 14-hundred city workers over the next four or five years.
Given that there are about 75-hundred full time city workers.....we are talking about one of every 5 or 6 city employees that need to be fired over the next five years.
This story comes from urban Milwaukee- to their credit. Someone over there sat thru a boring city finance meeting in which alderman were presented these hard facts by the city’s’ budget director, Dennis Yaacarino
He says the city’s pension obligations keep ballooning, and...
Folks-that is more than the city puts into the pension fund now. Today, the city obligation is less than 76-million dollars. So in just two years- this obligation will more than double.
We need a 105 percent increase in the city’s pension obligation- starting in 2023- is the news.
And, of course, the city can’t just raise taxes to get that money.
Cities can levy fees on a bunch of things, and the terrible budgeter that Tom Barrett is, he already has. The city already has a wheel tax fee, and a street light fee, and a garbage fee, etc.
But cities cannot raise their sales tax without state approval.
And so-I suppose Barrett and the council could propose a ‘gargantuan pension fee’ and try to sell it to the public, but....they don’t really have the ability to balloon property taxes or fees-to come up with this money.
This was also presented to the alderman as a grim reality: you can’t just raise taxes on your own to get the money, either.
So over the next two years-in order to meet the pension obligations that tom Barrett has allowed to balloon out of control during his tenure- nearly 11-hundred city workers will need to be laid off.
And this comes after a few budgets in which Barrett has -already!-laid off city workers. Mostly police officers.
In again proves what a terrible administrator and budgeter he is: Tom Barrett has 74-hundred city workers to choose from but he keeps laying off police and fire workers...when they are the main reason city government even needs to exist!
Police, fire, snow removal and garbage pickup are-honestly- the only reasons that city governments were originally formed, and they are still the only real reason that city governments are needed.
And so-of course- over the years- in a city with terrible crime problems-Barrett has chosen to lay off policemen and firemen.
And his excuse is always: well, they take up most of the budget.
No. They really don’t. Which his own budget director made clear yesterday:
Nearly half of the city’s jobs are in public safety, yes, but that means that more than half -are not.
That means that about 39- hundred city workers- are not police, fire, EMT, etc. In other words-critical workers.
Barrett has 39-hundred other city employees and departments to cut from. Yet he always picks on police and fire.
But that’s a good snapshot of how totally bleeped up Tom Barrett has Milwaukee’s finances. I’ve been rapping him for this for years, but outside of talk radio, no one in the Milwaukee media cares to tell the truth.
It was just a few weeks ago that i briefly touched on this run-away pension fund, and said: Tom Barrett has been mayor for 16 years!
This pension crisis-literally-developed on his watch. And he hasn’t done a thing to solve it. But hey, he’s mayor for life. He’s only rarely seen as actually ‘running’ anything and he’s got an accomplice group of city council members who only want to put their heads down on their desks and collect a 75-thousand dollar a year salary-with great benefits-
And so- they’re all pretending to run the city-together.
It was just a week or two ago that i said, Tom Barrett could have -sixteen years ago-transitioned all new city hires into a 401k style system and they could have stopped adding new retirees to this system.T hat simple act would have the city in much better shape now.
At-any time- in any of the annual budgets over the last sixteen years- Tom Barrett and these alderman could have agreed to cut city worker’s benefit packages.....and/or forced the police and fire workers into honoring "Act 10" style reforms in which they paid more for their health insurance and pension.
Barrett did nothing and so this pension crisis is-all-on him.
These 14-hundred layoffs, if they occur, are all ‘on him’. And an honest local media would report that.
What has a lefty cabal running the city who only ever protect the unions.....led to? Budget and pension nightmares like this. And-no way- to solve them.
In fact- let’s talk about the solution that was floated, at this meeting.
This is a classic, desperate, grab by lawmakers who have so bleeped things up that they are looking for any way out.
The budget director floated the idea of an investment shell-game...and most of the alderman at the hearing...leapt at the idea. Oh, yeah that sounds good. We could do that....
The idea is an honest-to-god shell game, called, quote...pension obligation bonds
let’s put out a bunch of bonds that pay five percent and invest that money in the stock market...and then hope and pray and pray and hope and then pray some more...that we get more than five percent on the return.
Come on, people.
This is responsible government?
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to get this next part.
Now city leaders would be looking put state taxpayers on the hook for their failed shell-game scheme.
This story is-remarkable. And has any taxpayer in Milwaukee or south eastern Wisconsin heard about it-as the problem was getting worse? No.
Is the j/s trying for another Pulitzer prize by digging deep and exposing the incompetence and the way Barrett and city leaders have failed the city?
Only urban Milwaukee has it.
Now that they have exposed it: 14-hundred city layoffs...or a great shell game in which these same dunces try to ‘time the market’ is coming....
Will any other newsrooms alert the public to it?
story credit: Urban Milwaukee
photo credit: Fox 6 News Milwaukee