Toledo Blade | Group says Toledo officials' pensions top $3 million

Findings from TUA’s pension project on Toledo, Ohio, are featured in this article from the Toledo Blade.
A Chicago-based advocacy group released Thursday a report estimating the top lifetime pension amounts due to Toledo and Lucas County public officials at between $3 million and $4 million.
Taxpayers United of America, which bills itself as a national non-partisan organization campaigning for tax accountability and pension reform, published the list, which details wages and pension estimates for 100 local officials and teachers, including Mayor Mike Bell and police chief Derrick Diggs. The group said it based its calculations on annual wage data, Ohio pension rules and a life expectancy of 85 years.
According to the report, Mayor Bell would take home a lifetime pension of $4.1 million over 30 years and police chief Derrick Diggs — who is listed in his previous position as deputy chief — would enjoy a $3.3 million lifetime pension. The report also estimates pensions for the heads of several Lucas County social service agencies, city department directors and police captains. However, many of the officials cited in the report no longer hold the positions stated and some have already retired.
The numbers listed are difficult to verify because government pension amounts in Ohio are not disclosed under public records laws. City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said she could not respond to the data in the report, pointing out that the methodology used was “flawed.” She declined to provide alternative numbers, stating that the city does not have access to pension information,
However, Taxpayers United vice president, Christina Tobin, said the group is confident the numbers are quite accurate. Moreover, the difficulty in verifying them points to the need for greater transparency in Ohio’s public pension system, she argued.
The organization is compiling similar reports on public pensions across Ohio and seven other Midwestern states. Ms. Tobin said the numbers show the current pension system is unsustainable and needs to be reformed. As it stands, the system places an unwieldy burden on government budgets and is unfair to taxpayers, she said.
“It’s the same pattern everywhere. The average household income is peanuts. Pension payouts are in the millions,” Ms. Tobin said. “I don’t think taxpayers will be too thrilled with the idea with the mayor making that sort of money.”
Adam Schwiebert, a research fellow at the conservative Buckeye Institute in Columbus, which also compiles data on public salaries and pensions, said the Taxpayers United numbers are “estimates at best.” He said the group relied on several assumptions, such as life expectancy and length of employment, which can vary considerably. But he echoed Ms. Tobin’s concern with the public pension system, saying it represents a $66 billion “unfunded liability.” His group advocates for a system closer in line with the private sector where workers pay into plans such as 401(k)s, he said.
“This is a tremendous fiscal issue facing the state and an issue of fairness,” he said. “We think Ohio should be forward thinking in funding its public retirement plans”

Toledo Ohio: Top Secret Government Pensions Revealed!

TOLEDO—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) revealed government employee wages and pension estimates for Toledo and Lucas County. Ohio’s government employees are not only receiving generous salaries, but when retired, many will become pension millionaires. Ohio officials refused to release pension figures, so the pension payouts are close estimates* for this report.
“Why are Ohio lawmakers hiding their pension information? Are they more concerned with protecting abusers, than reforming a system that holds taxpayers hostage?” asked Christina Tobin, TUA Vice President
“I have hand delivered letters to Gov. Kasich and each member of the Ohio General Assembly, asking for transparency regarding individual pension amounts, as well as meaningful pension reforms that will be both fair and sustainable.”
“Toledo area taxpayers struggle through this recession with an average household income of $41,000, while government employees really rake it in for as many as 31 years of retirement benefits.  The maximum annual Social Security annual benefit is $22,000, regardless of how much an individual earned in their working career.”

Click below to view:

“Toledo mayor, Michael P. Bell can look forward to an estimated lifetime pension payout of $4,142,076, that is $88,129 annually, based on his current gross of $122,402.”*
“Toledo government teacher, Francine Lawrence had annual gross wages of $97,098 and looks forward to an estimated annual pension starting at $64,085 with an estimated lifetime payout of $3,332,408.”*
“Lucas County staff attorney, Jeffery B. Johnston had annual gross wages of $151,552.  Johnston will enjoy $4,282,849 in estimated lifetime pension payouts or at least $118,968 annually.”*
“Lucas County deputy coroner pathologist, Diane Marie Scala-Barnett grossed $142,491 annually and stands to receive an estimated beginning pension of $111,855 with a lifetime estimated pension payout of $4,026,792.”*
Each of the top 100 pension estimates of Ohio State University employees reaches the maximum estimated pension payout of $214,500 annually for an estimated lifetime total of $7,722,000!”*
(Click here to read the entire article…)

89.7 NPR News (Associated Press) | Conservative Report Targets Central Ohio Pensions

Findings from TUA’s pension project on Columbus, Ohio, are featured in this Associated Press article at 89.7 NPR News. (The original version of this article referred to TUA as a “conservative” group.  The error has been omitted below.)

A national group that works to cut pension benefits for government employees is highlighting some payouts to central Ohio workers as a sign of government waste.
Members of Taxpayers United of America began a tour of Ohio on Monday. A new report points to pensions that give a Columbus police deputy $213,000 in annual payouts, $215,000 a year for a state government employee, and $178,000 in annual payouts for a Franklin County government worker.
The group advocates ending pensions for new government hires and requiring workers to pay more toward their pensions.