Pension spike stuffed O.C. firefighters’ wallets

Kudos to the O.C. Register for their latest investigative effort.  They have dug up startling information about how much money our O.C. firefighters are making, thanks in great part to the ridiculous pension spike that our previous O.C. Board of Supervisors approved.

That pension spike was approved by pro-union Republicans Jim Silva, Todd Spitzer, Cynthia Coad, Chuck Smith and Tom Wilson.  I helped Supervisor Chris Norby to unseat Coad.  Spitzer now works for O.C. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, and is the presumed heir to T-Rack, and Silva got the support of most of the OC GOP machine when he later ran for the State Assembly.  Remember these names – these bad Republicans may yet bankrupt our county again.

Here are a few excerpts from the Register’s article:

Overtime costs at the Orange County Fire Authority hit $27.9 million last year, a 55 percent increase since 2003, an Orange County Register analysis of payroll records has found.

Most of the overtime – 86 percent – is spent to keep fire stations open on a 24 hour basis—not for major disasters like the Santiago and Freeway Complex fires.

Interviews and records show that a key factor behind the growth of overtime is the enhancement of pension benefits granted to firefighters in 2001. The pension benefits have boosted the cost of each firefighter dramatically, simultaneously discouraging the agency from new hires and encouraging more early retirements.

The result is more vacancies and larger overtime bills to cover empty shifts. Last year, the 61 vacant positions contributed to more than 30 percent of overtime payouts.

Meanwhile, the overtime has helped to transform firefighting from a blue-collar job to a high-paying profession. Last year OCFA’s 814 firefighters, engineers and captains earned a median annual pay of $137,784. Overtime made up $36,488 of that. (Median is the number in the middle—half the firefighters made more and half made less.)

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.