In a thank you note to supporters of her reelection bid, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner talks of her stepping up as a leader to change the "business as usual" approach to financing cities. What she got for her effort was a pledge by the hacks to cut her off at the knees, but not everyone is being dismissive.
A professional number cruncher from Monroe County says Mayor Miner's concerns over "pension smoothing" are justified. Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini is also a financial analyst and his look at the future varies from Andy's people.
Let's be charitable and call it an honest difference of opinion between good and honorable people.
Let me add my concerns. The Governor's plan assumes all will remain as it is now.
Those who stick with current high pension rates and tough it out may think lower projected rates in the out years will make up for tough decisions now. Could be.
My experience in politics suggests otherwise.
Once rates for the non-smoothers (presumably a minority of local governments) drop below the fixed rate the clamor will be on as the smoothed cities and towns will be facing another crisis and will want their rates lowered. Since they will have the political center of gravity, they may get their way. There goes the savings.
What about the propensity of the Legislature to add pension "sweeteners" once there is a perception rates are moderating ?
Also, history suggests the Tier Six incarnation of the NYS Retirement System isn't going to be the last tier. In 25 years, we could see many more changes. (Don't forget, the legal gaming of the system will continue as well)
This is the danger in maintaining a defined benefit system predicated on unrealistic market returns and subject to the shifting sands of the political process.
A Member of Assembly told me recently the present system is needed because workers can't be trusted to plan their own retirement.
I might suggest Albany, with all its budgetary nooks and crannies, cannot be trusted to run something this big and costly.
I won't use terms like "gimmick" as that only antagonizes Eagle Street at a time when we need state help on certain issues.
I do strongly support Mayor Miner and Supervisor Assini in saying this issue is frought with peril and the easy solution with the easy name of "pension smoothing" may not play out as offered, no matter what good intentions there are now.
Dueling data: What would pension smoothing cost Syracuse? | syracuse.com