To the editor:
Don’t expect the Helix Water District board to make any changes to the employee benefit and pension package in the upcoming MOU—when they themselves can make over $18,500 in benefit compensation (see chart below) before you add in the $200 per meeting for another 7-10 meetings per month and you have total compensation that could approach nearly $40,000 for a part-time job. Not bad.
Some wonder why a board member would spend $10,000 to win an election to be on the board. It is simple: Invest $10,000, get a $40,000 return per year for four years.
So will the HWD board who we elected to protect us really do something about reducing the best employee pension and benefit package in the county for public agencies? Time will tell, but don’t count on it since they hired HWD General Manager Weston and Administrator Irvine that work for the district as employees to negotiate against themselves.
Does this make any sense? It hasn’t the last two MOUs. A good start would be for the board to vote to have themselves pay at least 50 percent of their own benefits since they are after all part-timers.
Now they are talking about raising our rates again to pay for an accelerated capital improvement program. Enough is enough. No more increases until you get your employee pension and benefit packages in line with the rest of the private sector or God forbid at least heading towards their brethren city and state agencies.
Make the employees pick up the 8 percent optional pension cost picked up by the district, and change the pension formula for new hires to 1.5 percent at 65. Eliminate the $500 deferred comp payment. It is not needed with the current pension benefits.
Make employees pick up 25 percent of their benefit costs and 50 percent of their dependent costs for health, dental and vision.
If the public does not speak up at HWD board meetings, write in or email the board (firstname.lastname@example.org), or we are all doomed to accept what is forced upon us. All we can then do is vote out Mr. Smith, Linden and Muse who are up for re-election in 2012 and hopefully elect some new board members who are truly looking out for our interests, not their own.
Rise up, people. Get vocal. There is still time to attend a Helix board meeting and voice your opinion in open session. That is, of course, if you can take off work at 2 pm on a Wednesday to make it—just another way the board attempts to shut out the public since most of us work during the day.
Is there any wonder why the public has so much anger with the public agencies?
Here are 2011 monthly premiums paid by the District for each board member for medical, dental and life insurance and the matching annual deferred compensation benefit.
Medical Dental Life Deferred Comp
Muse $1338.08 $51.95 $1.57 $500
Linden $ 566.59 $33.48 $1.20 $500
Smith $ 430.50 $33.48 $1.57
Verbeke $1338.08 $51.95 $12.37
Hedberg $1218.31 $81.30 $12.37 $500
The District pays for a $100,000 life insurance policy to age 70, at which time the benefit decreases to $10,000.
David Smyle, La Mesa