Archive for the ‘Union County Government’ Category

Random Clips

PBGC says they updated their SFA spreadsheet on February 18 but I could not see any changes so this looks like it is going be a late-Friday/early-Saturday ritual for the next few months. Since there is nothing to report on that front I thought I would put up a few clips that I wanted to store here.

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Tap Into Taxpayer Apathy

As is the case in many large organizations, the staff provide direction to the board, rather than vice versa.

Jeffrey C. Hooke – The Myth of Private Equity (pages 10-11)

The quote refers to public pension boards, specifically in Maryland, but applies equally to government boards like the Union County Board of Commissioners who define the art of rubber stamping. This time a media outlet, Tapinto Westifield, noticed possibly on account the massive size of the raises the honchos employed at Union County are giving themselves (throwing in a little something for the board members as well).

For example, at this rate of salary increase, you may be interested to know what year County Manager Ed Oatman will be making over a million dollars in annual salary.

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CBBS (3) PFRS Bill-To-Budget Theft

For Bergen and Monmouth counties the amounts appropriated for PFRS contributions in their budgets do include a buffer. I do not have access to their check registries but billing history does go back to 2017 on the state website and those amounts do approximate what is reported as charged in their budgets with the excess appropriation reserved (mostly and with 2021 still to be adjusted). Not so in Union County where I do have check registry data going back to 2005 and it shows $1,360,304 unaccounted for.

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CBBS (2) PFRS Bill-To-Budget Details

You would expect that the line item for the contribution to the Police & Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) would be routine. The state sends you a bill around April, 2020 when the June 30, 2019 valuations are done and you pay it a year later. That number should theoretically be what you put in your 2021 budget. For three counties in New Jersey it isn’t.

After putting 2021 budget numbers for PFRS contributions into a spreadsheet for all counties two things stand out:

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CBBS (1) PFRS Bill-To-Budget

This sounded like bullshit at the time:

Actuarial reports for the plan year ended June 30, 2019 came out April 23, 2020 and they were used for determining the amounts localities had to pay by April, 2021. Retro bills? Buffers? Has the state ever sent a retro bill for a pension payment? That’s what I wanted to find out which is why I gathered all 21 county budgets for 2021 with the idea of comparing costs and spotlighting dodgy numbers that politicians, political appointees, and media that covers their actions (sparse as it is) have no incentive (or, in most cases, knowledge) to review. Hence this CBBS series which starts with my quest for an explanation of PFRS billing and budget differences.

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NJ state senator may be ineligible for pension credits after report claims ‘serial absenteeism’

That is the headline from a story that starts:

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari’s alleged no-show job as Linden’s municipal prosecutor — first revealed in a 2019 audit — likely allowed him to collect years of pension credits for which he was ineligible and could expose him to potential criminal prosecution, an investigative report obtained by the USA Today Network New Jersey shows.

The 59-page report, prepared for Linden by law firm Calcagni & Kanefsky, accuses Scutari of “serial absenteeism” during his last five years as prosecutor. It also says the powerful Union County Democrat cost Linden nearly $200,000 and compares his actions to those of Wayne Bryant, the former state senator found guilty in 2008 of illegally padding his pension with a no-show job.


Scutari, who oversees political and judicial appointments as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also leads the Union County Democratic Committee.

That latter job allows Scutari, in a Democrat-dominated county, to pick who he wants to sit on the Board of Commissioners and, by extension, who gets hired by Union County for any job or contract.

Though Nicholas Scutari’s Senate bio page lists his Public/Party Service as “City of Linden Prosecutor 2003-present” that is not the case as only relatives* appear on the latest datauniverse databases. However, back in 2017, he was listed:

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Buffer Pirates

I submitted my question on Monday giving the financial people time to think up an answer. This is the best they could do:

My guess is that this answer came from the accountants (Suplee, Clooney & Company) and something was lost in translation.

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What Did You Do With the Money?

Ringo Starr: What money?

Stuttering John: The money your mother gave you for singing lessons.

Ringo Starr: I spent it on fish and chips?

I will be asking a version of this question today of the Union County commissioners at their zoom meeting though it will relate to the money that they claimed was going into the the state retirement system for their employees.

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NJ Local Pension Bills

Annual pension contributions from local employers in New Jersey come due next week based on the June 30, 2019 actuarial valuations. The state website only has the breakdown in pdf format but it was easy enough to export the numbers into excel for the PERS and PFRS plans.

Many local employers are also drafting their 2021 budgets so it was interesting to see what one of them (Union County) allocated as pensions costs for 2021.

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NJBIA on NJ Budget

A couple of months ago the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) brought together three former State Treasurers

to discuss the current state of New Jersey’s finances including unfettered borrowing and public benefit issues that included these bombshells:

Here are more excerpts including another bombshell about the obvious reform that would cut taxes that had all the panelists nodding in agreement.

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