Minimal Pension Reform in Warwick
Warwick Mayor Avedisian’s pension reform proposals are currently in the process of being reviewed by the Warwick City Council. In a nutshell, Avedisian proposes the following:
1) Minimum retirement age of 50 years old for Fire and Police and 59 for municipal workers. Right now, they can retire at any age as long as they’ve served enough years. Which leads to….
2) Increase the minimum years of service required to retire to 25 for police and fire (up from 20) and 25 years for municipal employees.
3) Unfortunately, any cost savings projections are immediately obsolete because the proposal also assumes the same 8% or so rate of return that is fast becoming obsolete as the new actuarial reports being presented today show. Former City Councilor Bob Cushman broke down the minimal–delayed–savings at the meeting:
Basically, right now, cost-savings are “on paper” and way in the future.
Anyway, taking it for what it is…upping the retirement age to 50 is defensible for police and fire, but 59 for municipal workers? Why not 65 like the rest of us? Average lifespan is what, 75 now? That means 16 years retired, getting full health care to boot. (As far as I know, Mayor Avedisian isn’t proposing the removal of lifetime health care benefits for city employees). I’ve said it before, this is all nice, but it should have been done a while ago. The flexibility of bureaucracy in action once again.
Unions are fighting this reform because they don’t want pensions to be removed form collective bargaining. So far, the first phase (police pension reform) has been approved 7-2 by the City Council. Apparently, Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson and Councilman Charles “C.J.” Donovan Jr. couldn’t even approve of this tepid reform. Vella-Wilkinson is the new City Councilor who said of the proposal:
I personally feel that it’s heavy-handed for the city to decide (through ordinance) what pensions should be….We are not giving the unions a chance. They are stakeholders too…. They are not Al-Qaeda. They are not holding us hostage.
Brilliant. I’d urge Vella-Wilkinson to look at the new reports coming out of the General Treasurer’s office. How is she going to hyperbolize when current pensions need to change?
Look, something is better than nothing and the wheels of government turn slowly. But forgive me if, again, I’m less than enthused that some fairly common sense modifications have taken so long to come forth. Congratulations aren’t in order. This should have been a long time ago.