My town makes the big time… for the wrong reason

New York Times officially declares San Jose a “metropolis”… soon we’ll have a caped super-hero just like the other ones.  But ours will fight pensions?

San Jose now spends one-fifth of its $1.1 billion general fund on pensions and retiree health care, and the amount keeps rising. To free up the money, services have been cut, libraries and community centers closed, the number of city workers trimmed, salaries reduced, and new facilities left unused for lack of staff. From potholes to home burglaries, the city’s problems are growing.

Some of our neighbors are city workers, and ten years ago they used to be very up-front: work 20 years and get health care benefits for life!  I have noticed that they are very, very quiet about their benefits now.  It is a super-charged topic.  This line from the article, by the way, has got to be complete BS, or he has a very sad story that has nothing to do with him being a police officer… terrible reporting.  Police officer salaries are upwards of $100,000, and they retire on something like 90% of salary.  With overtime they make like $200,000 (it’s all public record on the San Jose Mercury News website).  If he has a $600,000 mortgage, he is paying maybe $3,000 a month… The cuts proposed are fairly modest.  If he has to sell his house, something completely unrelated to salary and pension is going on.

“I have to sell my house,” Officer Steve Brownlee said as he directed city workers toward a pile of debris. The only alternative, he said, was to work endless overtime to make up the difference. “I’d rather lose my house than do that,” he said.

See whole story: Struggling, San Jose Tests a Way to Cut Benefits – NYTimes.com.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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