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City of Hollywood pension plans putting budget in the red

Hard decisions will have to be made in the city hall of Hollywood concerning the shortfall in the budget. The $38 million shortfall has to be made up someplace and it looks like the pension plans of city employees will take the brunt of the cuts. naturally, city employee unions are up in arms over the cuts and are putting up a fight.

According to interim City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark, the city can no longer afford the pension plans. Among the city’s proposed pension changes: a reduction in the multiplier used to calculate an employee’s monthly pension; the exclusion of overtime and accrued vacation from pension formulas and the cancellation of automatic cost-of-living increases for pensioners.

If the two parties can not come to an agreement the commissioners have no choice but to put the decision on the ballot in a special election. A special election costs the taxpayers $400,000 and the the decision must be made by August 12 to have the election. The actual poll would take place Sept. 13 to answer one question: Should public employee benefits be cut as a way to help close the city’s $38 million financial gap?

The time line is influencing and aggravating the situation because already 800 absentee ballots have been sent out. By law, absentee ballots must be sent out 35 days before an election. These kind of referendums in between real election typically have a low voter turn out, which may favor the city employees, who would probably turn out in droves to protect their pensions.

Residents of Hollywood are tired of seeing their tax money wasted by poor decisions of it's elected officials. The commissioners, past and present got the city to this point and they should be the one to make it right.

Follow David on Twitter @50plusfinance and at www.50plusfinance.com

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