I just finished doing our taxes. This morning with coffee – thinking about how we can cut back on a few things for a couple months to off-set the unexpected more than 3 times increase in U.S. Federal taxes we owe.
It is manageable. At the same time I wondered how this can be being that we have not even set foot in that country for 2 years – obviously the meter is still running and of course this is an overview with a few explanations – but still….
Our son is living in California. That state is in a lot of financial trouble. One county in the wealthy San Francisco Bay area is in particular financial woes. Alameda County is facing budget deficits where residents have a per capita income of approximately $35,000 (according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau).
This was in the news this morning (warning this is hard to watch):
Private-sector salary for public employee
Working for the public good has also worked well for one California county administrator’s bank account.
According to reports by several newspapers, Alameda County, in the San Francisco Bay Area, is paying its County Administrator Susan Muranishi, north of $400,000—for life. This includes a generous base salary of $301,000, plus taxpayer-funded deferred pension plans paid for by the county.
The pension accounts are set by a formula that multiplies years of service by 2 to 3 percent of the top salary to calculate the benefit, the San Jose Mercury News reports. With 38 years of service under her belt, the top Alameda official, along with two top county executives, benefit lavishly.
The publication notes, “Muranishi, for example, was the highest-paid county administrator in the Bay Area, with $422,268 in salary last year. In addition, she received $137,196 toward her pension and another $46,500 dumped into a pair of deferred compensation accounts.” Most pension plans require the employee to pay in—but not in this case.
Even without the extra pension plans, Muranishi’s base salary alone stands out. Her salary is more than the rate for similar positions in San Francisco ($153,000), Chicago ($128,000) and New York City ($152,000).
President Barack Obama’s base salary, by the way, is $400,000.
Pensions are determined by the board of supervisors, but officials sign up for the special accounts.
A column from the San Francisco Chronicle asserts that Muranishi’s salary includes “$24,000, plus change, in ‘equity pay’ to guarantee that she makes at least 10 percent more than anyone else in the county. About $54,000 a year in ‘longevity’ pay for having stayed with the county for more than 30 years; an annual performance bonus of $24,000; and another $9,000 a year for serving on the county’s three-member Surplus Property Authority, an ad hoc committee of the Board of Supervisors that oversees the sale of excess land.” She also gets a $8,292 yearly car allowance.
It’s not bad, considering that Alameda County is facing budget deficits and residents have a per capita income of $34,937, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a government watchdog group, told the Mercury News the compensation plan is too much. “It borders on looting the public treasury. They don’t look at what they do as public service. They look at it as an opportunity for self-enrichment. This really hits the outrage factor.”
The state recently weathered a scandal in the low-income town of Bell (pop. 37,000) in Southern California. Bell was exposed by the Los Angeles Times as paying its city manager close to $800,000 a year—twice the salary of the Los Angeles police chief and the New York City police commissioner.
I decided to check out the Alameda County web site:
CHECKOUT their “VALUES” statement – OMG!
How does this happen? I perused the budget for fiscal 2012-2013 – There are cutbacks in services in many areas of that county. A couple things caught my eye. If you are wondering who is watching over the county’s spending – I found this tid-bit:
• Earned the “Award for Achieving Excellence in Financial Reporting” from the State Controller’s Office for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.
• Earned the “Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting” for the 27th consecutive year from the Government Finance Officers Association for our Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010.
Is it any wonder that one of the current major efforts of the U.S. government is to disarm the public?
Has the world gone completely mad?