Shhh! Top Secret Milwaukee Multi-Million $$ Government Pensions

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Milwaukee—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of its study of the Milwaukee County, Milwaukee Municipal, and Milwaukee government school employees.
“The State of Wisconsin refuses to release actual pension payments in an effort to hide the huge subsidies from taxpayers. We can’t let them get away with that so we estimate the pensions for current government employees, giving taxpayers an idea of what their ‘public servants’ get paid not to work”, stated Jim Tobin, president of TUA.
“Even in Illinois, arguably the most corrupt state in the nation, we can get pension payments with the names of the recipients. This is critical in revealing the inherent problems of the government pension system. But like good politicians, Wisconsin legislators not only granted themselves lush pension payments, but also the protection of a secrecy statue, a law that keeps their pensions secret from the taxpayers who pay for them.”
“If we have learned anything about government over recent months, it is that the very things they try to keep secret are the very things about which we should know. While Wisconsin government pensions are not in as much trouble as Illinois’, there are always problems in a system that requires you to put large amounts of cash in the care of the government without completely open review.”
“Even with the recent, positive reforms implemented in Wisconsin, there is a long way to go to fix the pension problem here in Wisconsin. Looking at the top salaries in Milwaukee and estimating pensions for those employees, it is easy to see that a system that pays so many millions of dollars to people who do absolutely nothing is unsustainable. About 80% of local taxes go to pay salaries and benefits of government employees. As more retirees have to be paid out of that 80%, less money is available to pay current employees for the services we need today.”
“Wisconsin, like all state pension systems, gets away with very loose standards in calculating their pension system’s health. Unlike pensions in the private sector, government pension fund assets are over-stated. But when new accounting standards go into effect next year, even Wisconsin which boasts a fully-funded pension system, will be underfunded by billions of dollars.”
“But average taxpayers can’t even fathom billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities. When we show taxpayers exactly what their government-employee neighbors are being paid not to work, they immediately understand the problem created by paying for services performed yesterday with tax dollars that are needed for services performed today.”

“Gregory Thornton, an employee at Vincent High School, gets a salary of $265,000. On top of that, he gets about $75,000 in fringe benefits – each year. His estimated annual pension is $211,500 and his estimated lifetime payout is a stunning $4,441,500.”
“Milwaukee County government employee, Thomas Harding, gets an annual salary of $254,068. His estimated lifetime pension payout is a cool $4,280,793 based on his estimated annual pension of $203,847.”
“While our pension estimates are a very useful education tool, I encourage Wisconsin taxpayers to demand the right to review pension payments, especially since taxpayers, until the recent changes, have funded nearly 100% of the pensions and health-care premiums on behalf of government employees. I have written letters to Governor Walker and every member of the state legislature, urging them to stop hiding pension payments from taxpayer review.”
Lawmakers aren’t even willing to answer questions about the secrecy surrounding pension payments. Wisconsin Reporter Bureau Chief, Matt Kittle said about the secrecy statute:

 ‘Wisconsin Reporter on Tuesday attempted to contact several state lawmakers asking why Wisconsin keeps pension information private while so many other states shine a light. None responded to the question as of this post.’

So not only are they hiding behind a secrecy law, they are hiding from the press to even answer to the public.”
“Wisconsin needs not only to be more transparent, but to continue with pension reforms that will bring its government employee benefits in line with those of the private sector. Specifically, government pensions need to be replaced with 401k-style retirement savings accounts where taxpayer contributions are made when the conditions allow it. Government employees need to increase their contributions to match the level of the private sector, and government retirees and employees need to pay for at least half of their health-care premiums.”
Pension Estimate Assumptions:
1. Assumes employee retires in 1 year and this salary would be 2nd to last salary
2. Assumes employee is on the payroll for 41 years or more and retires at age 65 and pension = 70%
3. Plus Social Security, assuming 4% annual salary increases over last 35 years
4. “Total Pension Payout” uses IRS Life Expectancy Tables for age 65 (21 years).

It’s a Spending Problem, Not a Revenue Problem – Even in Shawano, Wisconsin!

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SHAWANO—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) released salaries and estimated pension payouts for Shawano School District government employees.
“At a time when bureaucrats are trying to raise property taxes, one might think that they tighten their own belts, but not in Shawano, Wisconsin! They intend to also give themselves a 2% pay raise while raising the school property taxes by 12.4%,” stated Shawano resident and president of TUA, Jim Tobin.
“I have published the salaries and estimated pensions for Shawano School District to illustrate how irresponsible a property tax increase would be. Keep in mind that these are 2010 salaries, so it is likely that they are considerably higher today,” added Tobin.
“When average taxpayers in the district are making about $28,000 a year, how can anyone justify taking even more from taxpayers? This will hit farmers, retirees, and small business owners very hard at a time when they can least afford it.”
“It’s time for administrators to stop thinking of taxpayers as an unlimited source of money and be responsible by making the cuts to the largest portion of the budget – salaries and benefits.”
View the top salaries and estimated pensions of Shawano government school employees here.
Tobin continued, “Todd Carlson, Shawano superintendent, made a comfortable $169,196 in wages and benefits. As if that isn’t enough, he will also be paid about $117,784* annually, NOT to work when he retires.”
“The ten highest paid district employees make a combined total of over $1.5 million in total compensation; that’s an average of $150,000. It would be interesting to know exactly how many students these 10 highly paid individuals educate or how often they even step into a classroom!”
“Of the top 25 salaries for Shawano County government schools, 11 of them are from the Shawano District. Only five of the top 25 are from Bonduel and they are able to cut their rate this year. Perhaps Shawano could learn from them.”
“I am encouraging all taxpayers to attend tonight’s annual board meeting and let the bureaucrats know how they feel about their plan to increase spending without a second thought about forcing the taxpayers to foot the bill. Nearly every one of us has had to make cuts in our personal spending, yet Shawano School District administrators refuse to do the same.”
The annual school board meeting will be held tonight, August 20, at 8:00 pm, at Olga Brener Intermediate School, 1300 Union Street, Shawano.
*Based on 2010 salary data provided by the school district through the FOIA process. 1. Assumes employee retires in 1 year and this salary would be 2nd to last salary, 2. Assumes employee works 41 years or more and retires at age 65 and pension = 70%, 3. Plus Social Security.

Wausau Hides Government Pension Payments

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WAUSAU—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) released estimated pension payouts for Wausau and Marshfield area government employees. Wisconsin refuses to release government pensions, ignoring citizens’ right to review all payments funded by taxes.
TUA, who last year released pension estimates for state employees and eight Wisconsin cities, calculated estimated pensions for government employees in the cities of Wausau and Marshfield, and Marathon and Wood Counties, based on current salaries.
“Wisconsin has made the most politically courageous changes in the nation, to the corrupt system that allows money to be forced from the rank and file and given to politicians in the form of campaign contributions, by limiting collective bargaining,” stated Rae Ann McNeilly, Director of Outreach for TUA.
“But it seems that some government officials are willing to protect the system by keeping it hidden from review. The costs of shielding the system from review, and ultimately, reform, are devastatingly high as cities around the country are buckling under the weight of their unfunded liabilities. Pension funds are the number one budgetary problem in the country.”
“While residents across Wisconsin and the country face crushing taxes, falling home values, and high unemployment, and, at least according to some, another recession, government employees continue to receive lavish pensions funded by taxpayers who will never collect more than about $22,000 from Social Security.”
McNeilly continued, “For example, Steven C. Andrews, Wood County Psychiatrist, will collect an estimated annual pension of $137,886* based on his actual salary of $215,446. His estimated lifetime pension payout is $3,722,914*.”
Bradley Karger, Marathon County Administrator, has an estimated annual pension of $75,070*, based on his actual annual salary of $117,296, with an estimated lifetime payout of $2,026,882*.
“Wausau Police Chief, Jeffrey Hardel, has a lifetime estimated payout of $1,853,229* with an estimated annual pension of $68,638*, based on his actual annual salary of $107,247.”
View pension amounts below:

“Wisconsin’s government pension systems are crushing middle class Wisconsinites. Replacing defined benefit pensions for all new government hires with social security and 401(k)s would eventually eliminate unfunded government pensions. If current government employees would further increase their pension contributions, they would preserve their pension benefits. Additionally, all members should pay for 50% of their healthcare premiums. We need a stable system that is fair to both taxpayers and beneficiaries or pension checks will stop coming.” Added McNeilly.
*TUA submits FOIA requests for current employee salaries and estimates pensions based on the current pension laws. Assumes retirement at age 65 after 38 years work. Assumes current salary is salary used for pension calculation. Assumes COLA of 2%/yr. Lifetime Pension Payout does not include SS payments.