Friday, December 16, 2016

Medical marijuana dispensary ban up for vote in Norton Shores

Medical marijuana dispensary ban up for vote in Norton Shores |

Image result for Medical marijuana dispensary"...Norton Shores City Council came to a decision to draft an ordinance preventing dispensaries from opening, plus setting fees and fines.

Gale said if someone were to go against the ordinance and open a dispensary, the city would have to sue to shut down the business.

The fines would reimburse attorney fees instead of using taxpayer dollars.

The council will vote on whether or not to adopt the ordinance at a meeting Friday, Dec. 16..."

NS marijuana dispensary presentation. NS votes today!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

$23.5M in unfunded liabilities spark change in city's retirement plan

$23.5M in unfunded liabilities spark change in city's retirement plan |

"...Councilman Michael Hylland pointed out the urgency needed to improve the situation. 
He referenced a graph on a digital presentation showing that the city's unfunded liability doubled from 2007 to 2015.
Hylland said that the city could go bankrupt if it didn't make necessary changes.

NS work session 11-22-2016-Video-"Managing unfunded accrued liabilities"

NS-Managing unfunded accrued liabilities 1, 2, 3 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My letter sent to Norton Shores city manager today concerning pension underfunding

Dear Mark Meyers,
You may have noticed the recent article concerning Montcalm county's employee layoffs ( ).
My sincere hope is that Norton Shores employees and residents will avoid a similar fate.
My belief is the city's financial situation is perilous and decisive action must be taken soon.

I was disheartened to see only one city council person attend our meeting last week.
Perhaps I was using incorrect email addresses when sending the invitation.
Image result for pension disasterWould you be able to forward this note to all on the council and any others with an interest in helping repair these pension funds?

My thoughts relating to our Friday, Sep. 9, 2016 meeting about the current Norton Shore pension and retiree health care underfunding:

  • ·         How we got into this mess is not nearly as important as is the plan to get on track to fully fund the promises made to Norton Shores employees. My understanding, as of our last meeting, is that no plan currently exists. Is that correct?
  • ·         You and your team have made certain adjustments to employee compensation but I have not seen your analysis of exactly how these changes will help (or hurt) the goal of full funding. Do you have that analysis? Will it be made available to the council?
  • ·         Your Internal Memo dated 9-14-2016 (attached) shows "additional contributions per fiscal year" to the pension fund totaling approximately $1 million from 1998-2013. (16 years. Approx. $62,500/yr.) An additional $500,000 for FY 2015 with the same promised for 2016 and 2017. Are the 2016-2017 amounts locked into the city budget?
  • ·         Given that an additional $500,000 is only 2% of the "best case" ($24,619,315 using 7.25% rate of return) net pension liability, do you believe that $500,000 additional per year above the required deposit is adequate to bring the pension fund to your goal of 80% funded?
  • ·         Even with "additional contributions…", the city pension underfunding rose from 2005-- $10,211,605 to 2015-- $20,334,449. Almost a double in 10 years.
  • ·         The retiree healthcare fund mess is not just an "old" problem. Since 2010, the retiree health care (OPEB) annual recommended contribution has been underfunded each year by the following amounts:
  • ·         2010-$1,278,640
  • ·         2011-$1,791,622
  • ·         2012-$1,619,208
  • ·         2013-$1,083,302
  • ·         2014-$1,110,535
  • ·         2015-$1,615,229
  • ·         Almost $7 1/2 MILLION dollars has been diverted from retiree funds in just the last six years. With an upward trend in the last three. Why did this happen?
  • ·         Clearly, many believe this is a very serious financial situation. Is this on any upcoming city agenda?

Below are questions from my last letter that remain unanswered.
I'm sure that the council would be interested in the answers.
As would I and other Norton Shores residents and business owners.

Questions from previous letter:

  • ·         If the city suffers serious financial problems because the retiree funds are underfunded, will current retirees be affected? Current employees?
  • ·         The annual required contributions to the retiree healthcare fund had declined precipitously in recent years. Why?
  • ·         The "funded ratio" is 4.35%. With over $38 million underfunded. Are you comfortable with this? Why/Why not?
  • ·         Why do you use 8.25% return when your money managers show expected returns of 2-6.56% ?
  • ·         What have been the pension fund investment returns for past years?
  • ·         You have plans to fix underfunding. Are they written? What are they?
  • ·         Will citizens be able to attend meetings to discuss this issue?
  • ·         Muskegon county posts their employee contracts online. Will Norton Shores do the same?
  • ·         Are there any other pension programs or retiree healthcare programs other than these?
  • ·         Are the city councilors liable personally for serious mismanagement?
  • ·         Is there something that we citizens can do to help the situation?
  • ·         Are any new hires offered defined benefit plans and/or retiree healthcare benefits?
  • ·         Have you considered looking into other cities that have 100% funding?
  • ·         Are you willing to meet together with other cities to understand and adopt similar pension and health programs.
  • ·         How can we approach this issue as a team? (Citizens and the council they elected serving together)
A final observation.
Whether the government requires a municipality to compute and/or make available to the public that computation of financial data, it is the responsibility of that public body to utilize "real" numbers to make certain that every spending item has a corresponding and equal revenue stream.
And it is incumbent upon each and every council member to demand a regular review and accounting to make certain that promises made to employees will be fulfilled.
Whenever one commits the spending of money, either right now or in the future via an employment contract, there is an implied responsibility to make sure the adequate funds will be available when needed.
Signing union or other contracts, knowing full well there is no revenue stream to fulfill your side of the bargain is, in my opinion, immoral.
It may also be criminal.

Thank you for your time.
I am readily available to meet with anyone to discuss these matters.
I look forward to receiving your response.
Jim Riley