(The Center Square) – The people who work for Milwaukee County will get full credit for their pensions, no matter how many days they miss because of furloughs.
The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors on Thursday approved a plan to credit county employee retirement balances for any furloughs ordered because of the coronavirus. The county ordered furloughs or reduced hours for workers in May. Between May and the first week of August, more than 1,500 of Milwaukee County’s 4,000 employees had taken at least one furlough day. Nearly 160 workers were furloughed for a month during that time period.
Brett Healy, president at the MacIver Institute, said the free pension credits are just the latest perk for county employees that will come at taxpayer expense.
“This just shows you how out of touch the political elite in Milwaukee County government are,” Healy told The Center Square. “The hardworking taxpayers of Milwaukee County, many who have lost their jobs altogether, are working longer hours and working more jobs to make ends meet during this government-mandated shutdown,” he said.
“Rather than give themselves another perk in the middle of an economic downturn, maybe the government workers of Milwaukee County should be thankful they all still have their good-paying jobs, platinum benefits and lavish retirement packages.”
County leaders on Thursday say the move to give employees full pension credits protects them.
“We shouldn’t further penalize dedicated public servants who have been forced to do more with less because of the pandemic,” Supervisor Jason Haas, who serves on the Pension Study Commission, said in a statement.
The county’s Pension Study Committee puts that price tag at roughly $3,700 to $11,100 annually over 20 years, or between $74,400 and $220,000 over those two decades.
“I’m not in favor of rubbing salt in the wounds of County employees – who have already suffered a loss of pay through no fault of their own – and cutting their pension credits, when the savings would amount to very little compared to the size and scale of our pension fund,” Supervisor Moore Omokunde said Thursday.
The Wisconsin Policy Forum reported earlier this year that Milwaukee County’s pension plan is 70.6% funded, and the costs are growing.
“Milwaukee County’s employer contribution for its plan (including its pension bond payment) grew by almost 50% in the past decade to nearly $98 million in the 2020 budget, which equates to nearly one-third of the county’s total property tax levy,” the Policy Forum wrote in March.
County supervisors say their pension contribution alone was $64 million.
By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission