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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

John Stoffa's 2010 Financial Address to the Greater LV Chamber of Commerce

As Northampton County Exec John Stoffa was delivering his financial address to the Grater LV Chamber of Commerce this morning, I was just getting uo, having sdlept through two alarms. But fortunately, I have the text and present it below.

Initially, permit me to express my thanks and appreciation to Dr. Scott and the Community College for co-sponsoring this event. I would also like to thank the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce for co-sponsoring as well. I would like to acknowledge my Cabinet Members who are here this morning.

I often say that County Government is the best held secret around… until one talks about a tax increase. Let’s look at the proposed 2010 Budget.

The proposed 2010 Northampton County Budget calls for expenditures of $330,288,500; down $32,304,605 from the 2009 budget. The County employs 1,892 full-time and 266 part-time employees. No additional employees have been added for the past two years other than those that have been recommended by the Courts and the District Attorney and approved by County Council. The Executive Branch has no control over these appointments.

Some history:

Other than the revenue, called intergovernmental revenue, which the County receives from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for Human Services, the County gets its revenue primarily from property tax. This property tax was last increased in 2007. (1/2 mil, 4.9%) to fund the Open Space Initiative which was previously approved by the voters by referendum. The prior increase was in 2004. As you know, real estate assessed values do not increase from year to year. So, if the tax rate does not increase, the property owner’s tax bill will not increase. Consequently, except for the Open Space Initiative, property owners have not seen an increase in their tax bill from the County since 2004.

Conversely, some assessments have gone down. In 2008, property assessments were reduced by either the Courts or the Revenue Appeals Board by almost $15,000,000 - $9,557,200 by the Courts & $4,751,310 by the Appeals Board respectively. This is a drop of $150,000 in County tax revenue alone.

The total assessed value of cases pending appeal is almost $92,000,000. Residential property over $2,000,000 and commercial property almost $90,000,000. This would amount to almost $1,000,000 in reduced County tax revenue – if those appeals are won, and most of these appeals are winning.

The boom in housing construction contributed additional revenue until 2006. When the bottom fell out of the housing market in 2007, our revenue leveled off. At the same time, due to a dramatic reduction in the interest rate, interest earned on the cash reserves in the General Fund fell from $4.8 million in 2007, to a projected $1.1 million in 2010. Even with these revenue changes, and the same inflation all of us see each year on the expenditure side, the County was able to produce a surplus in the General Fund in 2006, 2007 & 2008.

This year, 2009, has tipped the scale in the other direction: we are operating at a deficit. In some ways we were hit with the “perfect storm” of fiscal issues. The downturn of the economy took a hit on our pension fund and something called the ARC – the Annual Required Contribution to the pension fund jumped by $6,000,000. In addition, a new governmental accounting standard (GASB 45) requires us to move from “a pay as you go” to actuarially determining the liability of all future retiree healthcare costs and either fund it or note it on the balance sheet. This is an additional $3 million above the $3 million “pay as you go” amount that we previously funded.

We are one of the few governments in the state who chose to fund retiree healthcare.
Also, while our nursing home at Gracedale contributed $1 million to the General Fund in 2008, it will require $9 million of County contribution in 2009, and $7 plus million in 2010. Finally, our union contract settlements, many of which were the result of arbitration, increased our costs by $2 million.

The fiscal future appears to be quite challenging in the next few years. It is unlikely that the housing market will return to the boom days of the past. We have on the books, a swaption that was entered into in 2004, that has an exercise date of 2012. Though we originally received $1.6 million for the swaption, the current estimated “break cost” is in excess of $13 million. Our 1871 era jail, which is the oldest in the State, is over capacity and significant expansion will be required in the near future. Our County Nursing Home, built in the early 1970’s will continue to require major capital investment.

What are our options?

We can do one of the following:

We can decrease the fund balance in 2010. It is anticipated that at the end of 2009, we will have an unreserved fund balance of approximately $45 million. And without a tax increase this amount would be reduced to less than $38 million. (This amount is less than 2 months of operating costs.) These reserves were essential in weathering the cash flow problems during the Commonwealth budget crisis. They are also a major factor in maintaining the County’s very positive bond ratings (AA 2) which saves the taxpayers money when we sell bonds for capital projects. Were we to continue spending the fund balance, the gap between revenue and expenditures will continue to grow, requiring an even larger tax increase in the near future.

or

Reduce spending by $7 million plus - no small task.

Salaries and fringes make up almost 70% of General Fund expenditures. Some have suggested that spending be reduced by $7 million by laying off employees - as many as 200. Were we to do this, we would have to continue paying unemployment benefits for at least a year following their lay-off. Since we are self-insured, we must pay the total cost of unemployment compensation. If our employees were eligible for the the current maximum unemployment benefit of $558.00 per week or $29,000 per year, laying off 200 employees would still annually cost us $5.8 million in unemployment. It is not the solution it first appears to be while services to the public would suffer dramatically.
or

3. Increase the property tax. Extremely painful decision. I would prefer to not do it. I’ve thought long and hard about tax payers just getting by and I do not want to raise their taxes. It is easy to rail against tax increases and then approve every new expenditure expense that comes before you. The budget includes a modest one (1) mill tax increase (9.3% over the current rate) which results in a $50 increase for a property with an assessed value of $50,000. Annualized over the four years of this administration, this increase is 2.3% per year.

This one (1) mill of tax would bring us $7.3 million per year on a County wide basis. Is $50 per year, 96 cents per week or 14 cents per day too much to ask for a nursing home with 660 elderly residents needing medical care, an overcrowded 1871 jail with 830 inmates, and a human services system that assists over 22,000 County residents per year? Should I have said no to a ninth (9th) judge?

In sum, in compliance with the Home Rule Charter, I have submitted a budget to County Council for fiscal year 2010, which includes a modest one (1) mill tax increase. To not increase taxes now, will only mean a larger increase in the near future.

I want all of you to realize that we are not in a gloom and doom circumstance. Northampton County is far healthier than many other counties.

In the last ten years, we have gained over 32,000 residents. We are now at 292,000 people or thereabouts. We continue to grow in population as well as economically.

Finally, people still want to live here, work here, raise their families here, and yes even retire here. Northampton County is a great place to be and will continue to be so. And I want all of you to realize that. I am very proud of Northampton County.

56 comments:

KJ said...

Bernie, thanks as always for sharing, just some things I wanted to point out:

1. I am no math whiz, but in decreasing the spending from last year, are they only cutting about .33% from the budget? I can't believe they can't trim more than this, if Pennsylvania could trim 1%.

2. Funding retirees of Northampton Counties healthcare? What are they Ford? As a taxpayer, I am apalled by this and know of few "companies" that would even still do this, yet alone a goverment.

3. The word "Modest"......he mentioned a modest increase of 2.3%or 9% over the term...if it is so modest of an increase, why can't we "modestly" cut the budget by 2.3% and ask employees of Northampton county to take a 2.3% paycut.

Just some thoughts...would enjoy your take on this...maybe I am just getting sick of getting taxed left and right....

BTW- Was at my Bethlehem Block Watch this week, Donchez from City Council was there, hinted at no Bethlehem tax increase.

Bernie O'Hare said...

We can ask, but I doubt unions will concede anything on wages.

Anonymous said...

KJ

#1 - $330 million 2010 budget is down $32 million from this year. That is an 8.8% decrease.

#2- Stoffa tried to stop health care benefits for new retirees but Council shot it down. Now they are squealing about the tax increase. Hypocrits!

KJ said...

Thanks Anon, I read it incorrectly....that info is helpful.

Anonymous said...

Dear KJ,

Before you try to screw over employees you might ask why Northampton County does not use casino funds (more to come from Table games) to reduce the deficit
and give up the ridiculous idea of a County health department. The last thing the county needs right now, especially in these times, is a health dept. How, with a straight face, can they think it would be fully funded by the State. The State is broke, in case you haven't noticed. It is time to trash the health Dept idea once and for all and either reduce taxes or fund Human Services when the State cuts them.. Why should the middle class workers get screwed over so you can save , what did Stoffa say, 15 cents a day..

Anonymous said...

the state budget did not reduce funding for local health bureaus by any amount... not a penny. the state continued its commitment to day cares, health and expanded its commitment to education. if you are going to claim the state won't invest, go find another reason.

KJ said...

Anon/Or County Worker.....

I was just coming up with ideas. I don't really think "modest" is inline with 9% increase.

I am just pointing out that it is rare to find health care benefits in the private sector during retirement, just somewhat suprised to find it in local government.

I guess I would just like to see smaller government. I agree we don't need a health department idea.

I am a casual observer and looking at some of the car companies, mismanagement and unions/pensions/retirement health care had a lot to do with those companies needing bail outs.

KJ said...

And the whole .15 idea....that sounds great, but....

.15 cents Northampton Property Tax
.? Bethlehem School District Tax
30% PPL increase
etc. etc....

It all begins to add up, especially when people are lucky to have jobs or are on salary freezes.

Anonymous said...

It's hard for me to believe they didn't reduce funding for local health bureaus. However, that said Northampton County would be a new health bureau and it's bullshit to think they would fund it at this time. Also, the County would not be funded 100% therefore they cannot afford. Still a good reason not to have it, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Also a County health bureau would draw many undesirables looking for free health services. Just what the county needs. More residents not paying taxes while collecting free services. Hell, if you can't get it free in PBurg bring them over here...Great!

Anonymous said...

There's nothing modest about a 9% tax increase in this economy. "modest" is the terminology of a life-long bureaucrat who once entertained $186,000 parking spaces. Apparently, Mr. Stoffa is the best this county can do. No wonder things are such a mess. Let 'em eat cake, I guess.

Anonymous said...

John Stoffa sits with multiple County pensions and retiree healthcare. Ask if he or hi swife will give up their County healthcare, he is a hypocrite.

He has always been about I have mine and screveryone else.

This is a BS tax increase from a lifelong buraucrat who has never been able to anything but suck at the public tit.

The Republicans live him.

The Village Idoti said...

Anon 5:32 PM,

Did you read any of his presentation? If so, where's your beef?

How are you suggesting that the county run and balance its accounts?

Are you suggesting that Stoffa and his wife give up their legally obtained, by WORKING for their pensions and benefits, to stem the tide?

If so, I would like to live in the Northampton County you are living in.

Maybe you should try working for the county. I did!

Peace, ~~Alex

Anonymous said...

People are struggling, Alex. My spouse has been unemployed/underemployed for over a year. We're trying to keep our house. 9% is a lot. We've had to cut just about everything from our budget and I'm thankful to have no debt beyond the mortgage. Government should cut as well. And no, more government employees in hard times are not going to help me at all, although I love the mindset that tells me to smile because their are lots of government types to help me if I lose it all from trying to pay for all the government types. Just don't raise my taxes in this terrible economy. I don't think it's a lot to ask.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

You can say whatever you want, but Stoffa speaks straight - not like the LC Exec who calls it a balanced budget when he depletes the entire rainy day fund to balance it.

I also disagree that anyone should receive multiple muni/government pensions. Simple law to pass - you get one government pension, period.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

If time are tough and you have a rainy day fund don't you use it to buy an umbrella.

Stoffa will not get one vote for his silly bureaucrat budget. The only thing Stoffa is straight about is going straight to the bank to cash his pension checks. The Council will do the responsible thing and cut the waste and use some of the obscene taxpayer money that Stoffa is sittingon. If I wasnt to invest $45 million I don't want my government to hold it.

The Butcher the Baker and the Candlestick maker.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Looks like some union goons are upset with Stoffa. Good!

They think we are here to serve them, and bring up distractions to justify their own excesses.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anonymous personal attacks against readers who comment here will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

"I also disagree that anyone should receive multiple muni/government pensions. Simple law to pass - you get one government pension, period."

To the Banker - Bernie asked for no personal attacks. Sorry Bernie. To the Banker screw you and the high horse you rode in on. I know a veteran that has endured three or four tours of duty in the war and is also a police officer. HE EARNED HIS PENSION. Its easy being a couch potato spewing nonsense, while others risk their lives.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Settle down.

I talked about this w/ a financial dude, thinking pretty much the same thing as The Banker. Now before you have a heart attqack, nobody is talking about changing an existing pension, which would be unconstittional. I'm talking prospectively.

I was told that, in temrs of dollars and cents, it really does nt impact a government wether someone is collecting one or a hundred pernsions.

What is far more important is the kind of pension. Defined benefit pensions should be phased out in favor of defined contributions. This will lift a terrible burden off the shoulders of taxpayers while providing for the employee and giving him more control over how it is invested.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1126, the issue has nothing to do with veterans or any other person who has served our country. What I was talking about was not a personal attack on anyone, and Bernie is right it can't and should not be done retroactively.

However, no one should have the ability to work for one gov't entity, retire with a full pension, then go to work for another gov't entity and retire with another full pension. Taxpayers can't afford this type of gaming the system.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

And having said that, I would not put military pensions in the same category as, for example, state employee pensions. I would not argue against someone receiving both a military pension and a civilian gov't pension.

But no one should receive, for example, a pension for County gov't work and State gov't work. Or two County jobs, etc.

So please, if you have a question on what I post feel free to ask me to clarify, but personal attacks make you look foolish and make my point for me.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see...You want to discriminate and choose who should get health care benefits and who shouldn't. NOW, you say, for veterans, its OK, for others NO.

Should soldiers in the future have to pay for health insurance, after serving their country? So, what's the difference between a soldier and a police officer?

Anonymous said...

Several delusions in your post -

1st, do you honestly believe that if the Federal Gov't is paying for your health care that it's free? If so, I have some beach front property in Alburtis to sell you.

Second, I wasn't talking health care benefits. I was talking pension. Two different things.

Third, yes I differentiate between the two. There are police officers right now collecting two pensions because they served in the state police, retired at 50 and collecting a full pension, then went to work for local forces so they could collect a 2nd pension.

I stand on my point that collecting 2 gov't pensions like this is wrong and we can't afford it.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

First, I was talking about pensions and benefits to you and Bernie.

Second, your delusional if you think that all tax dollars are spent on just government programs/personnel. Alot of expenditures are made to the private sector for capital projects/contracts/services. Tax dollars pay private pensions as well.

My point, which you can't seem to comprehend, is government workers should have the same right to accumulate and bargain for pensions/benefits as the private sector. I do understand that recently, health care costs to the private sector is jumping through the roof. Stoffa has increased workers contribution to health care as well, but that wasn't put in this blog or MSM.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Stoffa has increased workers contribution to health care as well, but that wasn't put in this blog or MSM."

As did Don Cunningham, too. Now I can't get into specifics bc there are 11 unions, career service and exempt. Each is governed differently. What would you have me write? To do it correctly, I'd have to talk about 13 separate groups. Be reasonable.

If you really want to save the county some money, and save some money for the unions as well, i'd suggest consoldiating into two or three unions to make things more manageable and less costly for everyone.

And unlike The Banker, I do not believe any savings will be realized by limiting someone to one pension. It still must pay the same amount. The real cost arises because those are defined benefit pensions. That has to change.

Anonymous said...

You may have been talking pensions and benefits - my post was specific that I was talking pensions. Also, where do tax dollars fund private pensions? If you're talking the PBGC you'll be right shortly but not yet.

You're right, gov't workers should have the ability to negotiate their deal. And right now it is significantly better than what is available in the private sector, and taxpayer guaranteed to boot. My point is we cannot afford to continue to offer gov't employees the same package as prior employees got.

Why should gov't employees be immune to economic realities of what is affordable and what is not? The best example I can give is the Saucon Valley teachers - whoever told them this strike was a good idea gave them really bad advice.

Finally, private sector health care insurance costs have been increasing at double/digit rates for many years now. It isn't a recent phenomenon.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Of course the mega dollar amounts of compaensation paid to Wall Street bankers allows them to live a very good life into retirement. Thats not a public pension and they deserve the money because they are the best, oh wait, they failed and we the public just paid them. Forget it Banker that is a minor quirk in your public vs. private rant.

Ohare I have to hand it to you, when you join a team you stay loyal. Now you have had the "defined contribution" team kool-aide.
There is no such thing as a defined contribution pension. A defined benefit is just that a real tangible thing that folks can plan around. The "defined contribution", is a Reagan era Ponzi scheme that got average folks to part with their money because the "Market", will be a better bet over the long term. As we have just witnesed, unlike a real pension, no matter how small, this legalized gambling racket destroyed the hopes and dreams of many folks. Quite a few already older and out of the workforce and unable to ever make up the loss. You migt as well just put money under your mattress and call it the "sleep safely" pension. Lets offer that one ohare. They give us all their money and we will put it under our mattress and maybe when they want it, it might be there or we might be in the Azores.

I do think there are two kinds of pension plans; defined benefit or defined sucker. Now lets privatize that social security, whatcha think?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Listen, defined benefits do not work for the taxpayer. They only work for the employee. They are bankrupting most government. They are shackling taxpayers and making them slaves to the public sector.

There are millions who currently have defined contribution pensions. It places the risk of loss on the employee, but gives him greater control in deciding which investments to make. In some instance and with some unions, this has worked to the benefit of everyone.

It's time for a change, just like Obama says.

I understand why you'd resist changing from the sure thing provided by a defined benefit, but it's unfair to the taxpayer. It needs to change.

That change will have to come from harrisburg, but it needs to happen.

Anonymous said...

When Stoffa and family give up their multiple public pensions and healthcare plans, some may actually start to believe he is more than just an opportunistic, fear mongering, self-serving lifetime bureaucart that wanrs others to do what he has never shown the courage to do.

Old do as I say not as I do Stoffa. Folks in both Counties remembe rhim well.

Anonymous said...

To O'Hare

OK, let us take your position in this argument. Historically, the public sector folks in the county were paid less than the private sector. The pension and benefits is what attracted the workforce. It appears you and the banker want your cake and eat it too. If you want to increase the contributions, than you should pay the employees the same as the private sector as well.

Anonymous said...

Geez you keep making assumption after assumption about how I feel. It's a damn shame you've been wrong pretty much 100% of the time.

Did I ever post anything on any post anywhere that supported the Wall St. bailouts? Short answer - NO. I am on the exact opposite side. No bailouts. Period.

The Feds have created a monster and they're continuing to feed it with this "too big to fail" crap. There should not have been any bailouts for any privately held company - including the car companies.

So sorry, you're wrong about me again. Keep trying though, it's entertaining to see you lobbing stuff up in the hopes that it sticks.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Banker, your histerical! You would be the first to have a tantrum if your car broke down and you couldn't get parts to fix it because you would have denied the bailout to the car industry. Then you would cry like a baby because you didn't get your social security check because you would have denied a bailout to Social Security. The world isn't so black and white as in your koolaid fantasy.

And by the way, you can't compare apples and oranges, as in your argument re SVSD. The teachers were offered 3.9 percent every year and went out on strike. The County workers were given 2.5% and were thankful to get it. It's a different culture. They understand the economic hard times. Most are single parents being paid a clerical technician salary. Also, most of the County workers can't strike. Just to educate you, the County workers, on average, comparatively get 11% less than private sector folks.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight - if GM went away, then there would be no one to make car parts??? And who's hysterical? Fact is the auto companies were ruined by management and unions working together to decimate them. They both should have taken it in the crotch for what they did, not gotten bailed out.

As to Social Security, I am in my mid 40s and I am planning on SS not being there for me at all. That means I live below my means and save money for retirement instead of spending every $ I make now and then just let the government take care of me.

The County workers should get less given that their pension is guaranteed by taxpayers. Let's raise County wages so they're equivalent to the private sector - then we equalize the pensions too. I'd support that, so everyone is on the same basis. Will you?

The Banker

Anonymous said...

"The County workers should get less given that their pension is guaranteed by taxpayers. Let's raise County wages so they're equivalent to the private sector - then we equalize the pensions too. I'd support that, so everyone is on the same basis."

Now you are getting it. And, yes, I would support it. That's the crux of my argument. You didn't know that the county employees made 11% less than their private sector equivalents. If everything was the same, than different argument, isn't it? That's why O'Hare wasn't making sense of his argument either. You have to compare apples to apples.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, I was making sense, but you'd prefer not to see it. if you want to compare apples to apples, then it's time for defied benefit pensions to go bc they are virtually nonexistent in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

No, Bernie, you were only making half an argument. I conceded that to go to a different pension plan and/or benefits plan, than you have to pay the County workers the same as the private sector. You can't have your cake and eat it too. The Banker acknowledged this as well. That's how the County recruits their personnel. If you want to rearrange the benefit package to how the private sector does it, than be fair in the compensation package.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'd be fine w that, but it would probably lead to decreases in d\salaries for many jobs. It would lead to increases for maintenance, but secretaries would suffer. Deputies, who do not have to work nights and weekends for the most part, would be reduced to something around minimum wage, which I think is the going rate for secuirity guys.

Anonymous said...

I'd think you (and the public) would be surprised. I believe that the solicitors are woefully underpaid. The controllers office employees are not nearly compensated as are private auditors. The auditing manager alone is so underpaid, I'm surprised he's still here, but he's a professional (no names, please). You have probation officers and social workers with masters degrees at the County level probably getting paid 3/5 of what a federal government worker gets. You mentioned maintenance, their next to food stamps, while their private sector equivalents are making a better wage. Stenographers work part-time on the outside to get better wages. I don't think you have a firm grasp on the magnitude of what the whole workforce gets paid in the County. I would think conversely, that on the whole, salaries would increase for the vast majority of County employees, if you paid them what the private sector gets and have them pay for the benefits. If all was fair, I would think the majority of the County workers would agree.

Anonymous said...

Bernie's right Anon - no grandfathering, everyone goes to market-based comp.

By the way, I'm not "just getting" anything. This discussion has been had millions of times. Gov't employees will never go for it, they want it all and for alot of them they've been getting it. The only way it happens is if people with the stones to take a stand are the majority on Council. The odds of that happening are not good.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

"Gov't employees will never go for it, they want it all and for alot of them they've been getting it."

Say that to the maintenance workers and clerks who have to use food stamps. You have no idea what you are talking about. You spew the usual rhetoric of cut the fat, while you break the backs of people on food stamps. Must be nice being a banker.

Anonymous said...

Again, you don't know me, don't know who I know and what I have experienced. I know exactly what I'm talking about. But keep making assumptions and spewing attacks, it shows how shallow and bitter you are.

You also have a raging case of ADD. Please go back and read what I wrote - you'll see that I said "alot of them", not "all of them". That comment also had nothing to do with "cutting fat" - it was a simple statement of that I believe.

The typical, average government employee is not who you describe. Are there some? Yes. But that is not typical.

The harsh reality is that in a free society there will always be people below the line. It is our duty as good people to help them and give them every opportunity to succeed.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

I admit, I do get shallow and bitter against people who are condescending. You are quick to judge County workers. It's as if you own them like property because you pay taxes. I point out deficiencies in your argument and you backtrack on your assertions, such as "I didn't say all". You must feel good about the fact that on average, the County worker gets paid substantially less than the private sector, or else you would have substantiated your earlier arguments. From your argument, I guess County workers aren't entitled to social security when they retire, since you pay taxes. Again, must be nice being a banker.

Anonymous said...

So I state what I believe, you make a personal attack, I respond to said attack with facts and beliefs, and I'm the condescending one....ooooook got it. Also, if you go back and re-read my posts, you'll see I haven't changed my arguments at all.

Please show me where I judged county workers? But I will say that since their pension is guaranteed by taxpayers they SHOULD make less. Less risk, less reward. Fact of life there, might as well accept it.

Social Security is a whole separate topic. It should be "needs based" - if you have assets above X or receive income(incl. pension/retirement payments) above Y you don't get it. None of this "I paid into it, it's mine." It's not yours, as soon as the gov't took it from you it became theirs. And we cannot afford to bring $1 in SS taxes in and pay $2 out.

We also need to increase the minimum eligible age for SS payments. We are living alot longer than we were and need to adjust the schedule for this reality.

You need to come to grips with reality - there is not enough $$ in the world to continue to spend the way we are.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am a banker, and proud of it. I also would be willing to bet that I have worked longer and harder in my life than most (NOT ALL, MOST, REPEAT NOT ALL MOST) government employees. Do I have more to show for it? Probably. And I worked my ass off for every nickel and took many risks along the way. And I don't apologize for any of it.

So please stop with the condescending "nice to be a banker" references. It continues to make you look small, petty, and jealous.

You want more? Then work for it.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

First - "Please show me where I judged county workers?"

OK

"Gov't employees will never go for it, they want it all and for alot of them they've been getting it."

Second - "But I will say that since their pension is guaranteed by taxpayers they SHOULD make less. Less risk, less reward. Fact of life there, might as well accept it." My point exactly. Then leave their benefits alone. You and O'Hare advocated changing pensions/benefits. Taxpayers made a contractual promise to the workers, that for less pay, their pensions/benefits are guaranteed. You can't change your mind and renege on a promise when economic times get a little rough. The County workers at times had to go without a raise. It was tough to swallow, but understood. You want to change the rules of the game, except life isn't a game.

By the way, there is a reason they call it "Bankers hours".

lighthouse said...

I finally had a chance to read his comments and the reaction. Seems like pensions have been disected thoroughly, so I ask a different question.

Tucked in his comments: " These reserves...are also a major factor in maintaining the County’s very positive bond ratings (AA 2) which saves the taxpayers money when we sell bonds for capital projects. "

Is there a long-term (5 year, etc) capital plan? Is building a prison (Gracedale, or where ever) part of the rationale for maintaining the high reserves--to keep up the bond ratings? I know he frequently speaks of the need, and even references the old prison in this address.

Anonymous said...

"Bankers Hours,"...haven't heard that term since the 80's and hasn't applied since the 70's. But why let a little thing like truth get in the way, especially when you can take another shot instead?

We're talking in circles now, so there's no sense in continuing. Good luck to you.

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:54 & Banker,

I think you both have very valid points. I'll agree that in some fields, not all the fields you mention, county workers are underpaid. I'll disagree that maintenance workers are now anywhere near requiring food stamps, although that was the case three years ago. I'll disagree with your remarks abot county solicitors or stenographers. I believe they may actually be overpaid, compared to what they would be getting in the private sector.

I'm all for approximatig the wages to what you'd get in the private sector, but you may not like what the studies actually show. I'd also insist that workers agree to give up defined benefit prnsions and contribute towards their health care. As is the case in the private sector, I'd also stop free health care for new employees after they retire. I'd want all unionized employess to agree to that retoractively. I'd also want tou to sit down and consolidate the 11 unions into two or three.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lighthouse, The cpital needs of Northampton ounty are great. It has an 1871 jail and the courthouse campus is on a postage stamp. It is always floating bonds to pay for capitol projects, and the next major deal will be the jail.

A good bond rating is essential to being able to sell those bonds at interest rates favorable to the county. That saves the county tens of millions over the life of a bond. You get a good bond rating if you have a healthy fund balance.

Thse who wish to invade this fund balance to pay for current county spending, are being short-sighted and will end up hurting their children and grandchldren.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa's incompetence has no limits. Today it is a 9.5% tax increase. An insider said he was pushing for 15% but some aministrators calmed him down.

In two years he will float a gigantic bond issue to finace his $186 a space parking deck(uneeded) and a prison, projected tax increase around 2012 is 17%.

A lifetime bureaucrat that can only spend. What is great about Stoffa is he hasn't done a productive thing in four years and needs a huge tax increase.

Hopefully Council will check the run away defecit spending in Children and Youth and the crazy contracts that are way past the state reinbursement level. Never done before in County history. Also look at some of the contracts being signed and with whom they are signed, it is totally out of control. This guy is a spending machine.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Gee, I talked both w/ Stoffa and his administrators today, and what they tell me is nearly the opposite of the anonymous lies you post. But thanks to people like you, Stoffa was easily re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and Lee Harvey Oswald said he was an innocent patsy. Wow, Stoffa and his cronnies said it, it must be true.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Stoffa and his administrators say exactly the opposite off what you've attributred to them, establishin you are a liear intent on spreading disinformation. People need to know that.

Anonymous said...

"I have no more territorial demands", it must be true Hitler and his cronnies said so.

HAHAHA