The city of Cincinnati is broke.
Their 2011 budget
includes a $55 million deficit.
Part of the problem is that Cincinnati public employees enjoy some of the most generous perks
in the state.
The City Council-approved contracts include benefits that, among other things, permit manyworkers to draw 13 sick days a year, grant three weeks' worth of compensatory time to public safety employees for holidays whether they work them or not, and entitle veteran police officers to nearly 10 weeks of various leaves annually.
That's bad enough, but here's what makes it even worse. These employees can save up all those days and cash them in when they retire or leave for another job. It isn't rare for these payouts to be over six figures.
Fourteen workers are eligible for two or more extra years' salary, led by Cincinnati police Lt. David Fink. Over his 25-year career, Fink has stored up nearly 10,600 hours - the equivalent of five years of work worth at least $434,857.
Fink is one of 10 police supervisors who could eventually retire with unused compensatory and leave time valued at more than $200,000 - money that can be taken in either a lump sum or, for tax considerations or other reasons, by continuing to draw a regular check from the city after leaving the department.
Another 38 Cincinnati workers currently are in line for $100,000-plus checks - "lump-outs," in city payroll jargon - when they retire or leave for another job. Hundreds more of the city's 5,092 full-time workers, though, also could walk away with tens of thousands of dollars, with 206 having balances between $50,000 and $100,000.
Nowhere in the private sector middle class will you find benefits and payouts like these. And remember who is paying for these huge "bonuses", of course: the same Cincinnati taxpayers who will never see these benefits in their own professions.
Councilman Jeff Berding is outraged.
"It's absolutely indefensible and offensive to taxpayers," said City Councilman Jeff Berding, who has repeatedly pressed for the city to take a harder line in contract talks. "It violates every standard of economic common sense and shows complete disregard for the city. People who just watched us struggle to try to cut $54 million from the budget have every right to look at this and be outraged."
"Sick time should be there if you need it, period," Berding said. "It was never supposed to be some kind of salary supplement. City workers are turning their sick time into an annuity."
While the city is considering laying off police and raising new taxes, they have been paying out monster checks to public employees just because they didn't use their sick time and other generous leave benefits.
I can't blame the individual workers for taking advantage of the benefits offered to them. But I can blame the city council for approving such ridiculous fiscal policies. And this is exactly why the reforms in Senate Bill 5 are so important. It will protect middle class taxpayers by setting guidelines on contracts to prevent incompetent officials like those in Cincinnati from approving these kinds of taxpayer-funded wastes.
Make sure your friends and family are aware of this type of information, and that they understand how important it is to get out to vote YES on Issue 2 tomorrow. The thugs
to Ohio to finish fanning the flames of their class warfare rhetoric. Make sure you are countering it with the truth about why Ohio needs reform.
Cross-posted at Third Base Politics, an Ohio-based conservative blog. Follow Bytor on Twitter.