Dec 21, 2012

Did Pawlowski Add To Pension Problems?

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.

12 comments:

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's a fascinating report. I believe Pawlowski many have exacerbated things by allowing all that OT, but who negotiated the pension agreement? I believe that was Afflerbach, and that Pawlowski mght have had a rile in that, too.

Anonymous said...

Is it not ironic that you post this entry on the same day that 19 people graduate from the fire academy. 14 of them will join the Allentown squad. I guess when you live in South Whitehall and hate Allentown as much as you do, the facts become blurred.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this right.

Retirement nets a 29% pay raise!?!

That is some crazy new math. And the mayor did it.

If the payments are illegal as the Bloomberg article states, it's really quite simple, cite the law, request a repayment of the over pay or withhold pay till over paid amount returned, and pay at the legal rate.

Who were the contract negotiators? The ones for the city should be held liable. Who were the lawyers who reviewed the contracts for the city, they too should be held liable. Who signed the contract for the city, they should be liable as well.

Sounds like the state needs to remove those in power for financial irresponsibility and replace them, till the city can have another election.

There may also have been some federal laws broke here as well, maybe the feds need to come in and investigate as well.

There needs to be a recall election here.

Michael as you quote Chester Riley "What a revolting development this turned out to be."

Frank

Anonymous said...

What about Councilman Gurity?
Doesn't he bear special responsibility in this situation?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 12:16 wrote I guess when you live in South Whitehall and hate Allentown as much as you do, the facts become blurred. bill v, I suppose when you hate people as much as you do, you blur the facts. actually the number of firefighters mentioned in the post includes the new graduates. according to the Easton Expressthe new graduates will bring the force up to 124.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is forgeting the newly appointed district magistrate former prez of the kings court jesters, michelle De Ahoemoe¿

REDD

Anonymous said...

For many years, prior to 2005 when the contract was negotiated, the AFD consistently budgeted and strived to employ a total force of 146 to 150. In 2005, a minimum shift strength was added to ensure a set number were always on duty. The number started at 25 in 2005 and increased to 26, 27, and 28 in the following three years. Under Pawlowski the number increased from 28 to 30 as a result of sending firefighters to more EMS calls to free up police officers. While the minimum staffing was increasing from 25 to 30 the total number of firefighters on the department was kept at no more than 140. This obviously resulted in using overtime to fill those positions. The increased overtime resulted in the large pensions. Had the fire department total staffing been adjusted to reflect the increased minimum staffing on the shift, pensions would be lower and more employees would be contibuting into the pension plan.

Anonymous said...

The fire OT was driven by the arbitration award back in 2005. No matter what you think of the mayor he had little control in the OT in the contract.No laws were broken, but the arbitration process was abused. There is NO legal way to recind the pensions that were awarded under the 2005 contract.

The only remaining member of the council that worked with Afflerback is Gurity.All other council members are gone and the administration people like the HR director and Finance director left in 2006.

The new contract (in 2012)removed the future outrageous OT and pension benefits, but the union continues in court to regain them.

The state needs to redo ACT 111 arbitration regulations.

Anonymous said...

Hold on there 11:36.

It was Pawlowski who settled the lawsuit on the OT during the first year he was in office. That suit was the taxpayers best chance to have the OT removed from the pension calculations.

I also think the settlement was the first time that Pawlowski claimed to have "solved" the pension crisis. He's been wrong several more times since then.

By the way, Bernie O'Hare is correct, Pawlowski did push the early retirement plan as a cost saving measure when he served in Afflerbach's cabinet. Pawlowski was wrong then, as well.

Anonymous said...

Redd:
The man your referring to is nobody's fool. He's not perfect but he was a damned good councilman and he's now a very fine DJ.
It's a damn shame he won't be the next mayor( and he was no lock-step supporter of the current mayor either).

You got it wrong.

ALFONSO TODD said...

It's interesting to me how people ( The Powers That Be) are AMAZED that there are people in Allentown, PA that can THINK for themselves, DO for themselves, and intend to SHOW others how to DO the same and EMPOWER themselves...... It is NOT a bad thing to have a City full of PROGRESSIVE and SELF-SUFFICIENT individuals (no matter what their socio-economic status may be) who only have Allentown, PA's best interests. THIS will be needed so that we can TRULY represent and make our home a place that both "Natives" and "Transplants" can be PROUD of....... Because the REALITY is that it is going to take us ALL to bring Allentown, PA BACK to where it SHOULD be and to take it to the greatness that it CAN be.... We CAN Do Better....

ALFONSO TODD for ALLENTOWN /
ALFONSO TODD for CITY COUNCIL

For more info: www.alfonsotodd.com

If you have questions or would like to volunteer to make this City a better place, call 484.619.6541

Anonymous said...

M
Sunday's paper highlights latest fire department incoming class.