Momentum on the Board of Commissioners is building to put new taxes on the ballot. Rahbi Yousef argued strongly in favor of such a measure at the July 24, 2013 meeting of the Board. He had support from Commissioner Conan Smith.
The Secret Deal with the Public Employees’ Unions that will have your Grandchildren Paying for their Retirement
All new employees of Washtenaw County, after January 1, 2014 will be enrolled in a defined contribution retirement plan (similar to a 401k). This avoids the problem of unfunded liabilities because the County owes the employee only what the employee and the County contributed to their retirement account during their years of employment. No longer are they obligated to pay the employee a pension for life.
What the Board of Commissioners does not want to advertise is that the same thing happened 30 years ago, only to be undone by the Commission in 2008.
Conan Smith alludes to this deal at a Board meeting in June, 2013 but he doesn’t take any responsibility for the decision to make the secret deal, even though he was a member of the Board in 2008.
All new employees of Washtenaw County, after January 1, 1984, were enrolled in a defined contribution retirement plan that was called the Money Purchase Pension Plan (MPPP). By 2007, more than 80% of the active employees were in the MPPP and no longer in the pension plans (WCERS). The pension plan was about to enter the final phase, where all of the members of the plan would be retired and it would be phased out as the members died. There would have been little if any unfunded liabilities.
The Board at that time had 11 Commissioners;
Karen Lovejoy Roe
Rolland Sizemore, Jr.*
Barbara Levin Bergman
* These three members are still on the Board
All of the deliberations about the decision to allow employees in the MPPP buy back into the pension plan occurred in executive session because they were part of collective bargaining, which is allowed under the Open Meetings Act. The final contracts had to be ratified by the Board in open session but there was no discussion during those votes of the decision to re-open the County pension plan.
That decision increased the length of time that the County taxpayers will be paying for pensions by three decades. It also greatly increased the total amount the taxpayers will owe to County employees.
Since many of the County employees who were promoting this decision to the Board and who were the source of information about the decision were enrolled in the MPPP, they had a conflict of interest since they would benefit from the decision to allow them to buy back into the pension plan and receive all of their years of service toward their pension.
Although, the Open Meetings Act allows the Board to meet in executive session and claim exemption for the minutes of those meetings, the Board does not have to claim that exemption. The Board should instruct the County Administrator to release the minutes of those meetings.