Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus says Dutchess County Legislators are planning on Monday to vote to give away millions of dollars in new higher pension benefit payments to county government unions without any indication of how much they will raise taxes to pay for this generous new benefit.
“These enriched pension benefits will fatten employee pension payments for decades at the same time taxpayers’ property tax bills have been skyrocketing and taxpayers own individual retirement savings and investments have crashed,” said County Executive Steinhaus.
The Executive said, “It is mindboggling, in the middle of a brutal national recession that has been punishing for business and family budgets, that legislators will vote to fatten pension checks for employees without even requiring the unions to negotiate the rich new benefit in a collective bargaining agreement. We have seen this too often before – legislators, collapsing under the political pressure of unions, put union requests first and the taxpayer’s wallet last.”
“How do county legislators justify this decision to property taxpayers who have no pensions and who are struggling to invest a few dollars in their own 401K funds?” asked Steinhaus.
“The new fattened benefit legislators plan to give away will add extra years of service to the employee’s tenure without employees actually working those years, which causes increases in their annual pension payments,” noted Steinhaus. “For some, this new benefit could be worth thousands of dollars for every year the retiree collects a pension and tens of thousands of dollars in higher benefits.”
County Executive Steinhaus said, “This year alone, in 2010, county property taxpayers will have to pay over $14 million dollars in the county budget for employee retirement premiums. In 2011, the cost to pay for county government pensions could increase significantly to over $15 million.”
The Executive also emphasized, “Additionally, this new benefit could have a new added cash cost this year in 2010 of an estimated $1.5 million dollars.” This cost is not funded in the 2010 budget and legislators have refused to say where they will get the millions needed in new money to make these benefit payouts this year.
Steinhaus closed by saying, “Administration staff and I have explained for weeks to legislative leadership that this costly new benefit is a bad decision for the property taxpayers who will have to foot the bill. With legislators choosing to proceed with this new entitlement giveaway and ignoring the cost implications, I feel it is critical for the public to be aware of the costly impact it will most certainly have on their property tax bill for many years to come.”