Bloomberg News reports that Allentown mayor Pawlowski is helping to create some of the pension problems that he now is trying to manage by leasing our water and sewage systems. According to John Stribula, head of the Firefighters Union, Pawlowski's staff cuts to the fire department created the need for extensive overtime, which results in the high pensions. He blames Pawlowski for the pension problem. "We share in the irritation” of the public about firefighters receiving annual pensions that exceed their salaries, he said. “I’m a city taxpayer myself.” Because of such overtime, one firefighter retired last year with a pension of $99,289, which is 29% higher than his last salary. The department now is down to 123 fire fighters, from a regiment of 140 in 2006. In fairness to Pawlowski, which I'm not known for, one would expect the union leader to advocate for more firefighters. However, it is also apparent that firefighters and police have taken good advantage of the overtime provision in the contracts. This highest paid pensioner just retired last year, on Pawlowski's watch. Pawlowski had pledged in his first term to work with both the police and fire chief, to avoid these overtime pension grabs. The fire chief recently stated that his staffing is adequate. It's not adequate for the taxpayers if these high pensions could be avoided by hiring a few more firefighters.
UPDATE: This post has been slightly reworded, to convey that Pawlowski might be a contributor to the pension problem, as opposed to the primary cause.