Monday, March 16, 2009

1st Quarter Recap

Three months into the term and I wanted to recap a few accomplishments and some areas of frustration as to the speed of government.

Accomplishments

  1. PCIP Neighborhood Beautification Funding for all District 3 Projects (not to mention all projects city wide), this is the best partnership we have with our citizens.
  2. Helping many District 3 neighbors with potholes and street lighting repairs.
  3. Meeting with every conceivable community group to understand their issues and concerns and how to better connect them with each other for success.
  4. 2009 Road pavings for many roads off of Scenic which had not been paved since I was in middle school.
  5. Opposition to Bingo due to its proposed structure and location; A proposed ordinance is in development and due for a vote before council soon.
  6. Working closely with Fire and Police Departments to gain greater understanding of their issues and challenges. Everyone should take the time to thank these folks for what they do on a daily basis, courage and honor are just the beginning of their jobs.
  7. Moving the dial on cleaning up our Bluffs Park area and making it a place we can all enjoy(stay tuned)
  8. Joining the board for PEDC ( Pensacola Escambia Development Commission) and working on many economic development ideas within the community.

Frustrations

  1. Delay associated with the Maritime Park agreement approval process.
  2. The proposed lack of amenities promised to our Citizens in the current Maritime Park plan.
  3. Being in office 3 months and we STILL haven't addressed the 800 pound gorilla in the room (PENSIONS and the Budget)
  4. The lack of communication between our Fire & Police and the City Staff. It's time for all of us to think about OUR city's basic needs and plan for it's future.
  5. Why we need a consultant for every measure before council or committee (Abramson, Dr. Lee, Maygarden, Diversity, etc.) We know our City better than any out of town expert.
  6. The hurdles that seem small but are almost impossible to overcome in moving toward consolidation of any services with other government entities.
  7. The recurrent inability of those that do not live in the City Limits to acknowledge that City of Pensacola citizens PAY for our City services. Over 19 million is paid to the county by city tax payers each year; We pay for our City Services above and beyond that amount.

On the horizon:

Pension workshop April 2nd where we will BEGIN to tackle the tough issues in front of our city with regard to our pension liabilities and how to fund them. I have many ideas to present and look forward to hearing from you with your possibilities.

Maritime Park Vote April 9th.

Budget Briefings 2nd week of April. We will work on our budget over a 3 month period and I value your ideas and opinions and need your presence during this process.

Continued investigation of ways to streamline and consolidate services both within our city structure and with other government agencies. We already have many consolidated services in place and they operate at a cost savings for our citizens.

Please stay involved in our process and keep emailing me, calling me or stopping me at the sports fields, I have enjoyed the first 3 months and look forward to the rest of our 2 years together.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

General Pension Possibility

Take a look at this article By Rick Outzen from IN Weekly... let me know what you think.

Outtakes by Rick Outzen

INVEST IN PENSACOLA
This is a radical idea, one that really requires people thinking "outside of the box." Why don't we have the city pension funds invest in the Community Maritime Park by buying the bonds?
The city general, fire and police funds total nearly $200 million. They lost $43 million of their value in the 2007-2008 fiscal year by investing in the stock market. Dick Barker, city finance director, recently told the Pensacola City Council that the pension funds have lost another $40 million since Sept. 30, 2008.
The CMP bonds would have a fixed rate of return and no risk. Pensacola would be investing in itself.

THE ALABAMA MODEL
The state of Alabama already does this. The Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), which provides pension benefits to retirees through the Employees' Retirement System, the Judicial Retirement Fund and the Teachers' Retirement System, includes the government employees, teachers and judges, and has invested from 2002-2008 $854.3 million in state and local projects and in Alabama companies.
Those $854.3 million in capital expenditures had statewide impacts of $1.947 billion in output, $620.9 million in earnings to Alabama households and 19,225 direct and indirect jobs. State and local governments benefited, too, with increases in state income taxes ($20.4 million), state sales taxes ($10 million), and county and city sales taxes ($12.5 million).
In 2007 alone, investments by the Alabama state pension funds helped provide 5,836 jobs and $245 million in payroll in the state. The study of the Retirement Systems of Alabama by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama found that average annual pay for those 5,836 jobs was $42,046, more than 14 percent above the state average of $36,751 in 2007.
The investments include the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Bell Microproducts, Daniel Corp., GKN Aerospace Services Alabama, Mercedes Benz U.S. International, Navistar Diesel of Alabama, U.S. Steel and Wise Metals.

CALIFORNIA DOES IT, TOO
Alabama isn't the only state where pensions are invested in the state. The study, "The Economic Impacts of California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) Investments on the California Economy," by California State University showed the significant economic impact of similar pension fund investments on that state's economy, adding approximately $8.5 billion to California's economy. The investment dollars injected by CalPERS into the California economy generated over 124,300 jobs in 2006.
The Alabama State Retirement System has invested $180 million in downtown Montgomery, a fact CMP opponent C.C. Elebash pointed out in a January 2009 letter to the editor. The RSA owns eight downtown buildings in Montgomery, which has a baseball park on its riverfront.
Pensacola needs the estimated 1,500 jobs that the Community Maritime Park will create. The city also needs the "win," a project that will excite people and restore confidence in the local economy.
The city pension funds are sitting in accounts doing little for the taxpayers who have paid the millions to fund them. Why not invest in ourselves?