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Open Letter to the Helix Water District Board of Directors

Board of Directors-Helix Water District

July 27, 2012

Dear Directors,

I just read the agenda for the August 1, 2012 meeting and was surprised to learn that you negotiated changes to the current MOU a full year early. I might have understood your unusual action if you had made changes – such as requiring the employees to pay their full “share” of pension costs – effective during this MOU period. But the changes you made don’t become effective until after the current MOU expires a year from now. The changes accomplish nothing that couldn’t be accomplished upon expiration of the current MOU – except for preventing any meaningful changes to the overly generous pensions for another three years. I can only conclude that this unusual and unnecessary action was political – that you want to be able to tell the uninformed public that you have acted, in the public interest, to reign in pension costs – albeit it the low hanging fruit.

I expect that you are starting to worry about re-election and want to deflect attention from the puny changes you have made to out of control pension and retiree medical costs, while continuing to approve annual water rate increases. If there is another reason for one year early negotiation of MOU “changes” that won’t take effect until after the current MOU expires, I request to know what it is.

Regardless of motive, your actions to reign in unfair and costly pension and retiree medical costs, and reduce the District’s approximately $40 million unfunded liability has been pathetic. Action to relieve rate payers of the burden of paying the employee CalPers contributions, in addition to their own much higher contributions, should have been completed in one step last year – not over a three year period as you have done. HWD employees lived off the public largess for far too long.

In addition HWD should immediately cease basing pension computations on highest single years salary – it is far too susceptible to spiking. Pension computation should be based on an average of “high three” years salary. Most important, since HWD employees receive Social Security, they should be on the “1.5% at 65” plan that is intended to compliment Social Security benefits. Later retirement will go a long way to curtailing retiree medical costs since Medicare is effective at age 65.

I hope that once the public become aware of your political games someone will step up to challenge you in November. Your willingness to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the public in order to be re-elected to your current positions is inconsistent with the concept of public service.


Russell Buckley


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This entry was posted on August 14, 2012 by .
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