Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Pension in the Room is Palpable

And then there's this:

Pittsburgh Councilman Patrick Dowd and city Controller Michael Lamb this morning proposed transferring ownership of city parking garages to the financially strapped pension fund.

Mr. Lamb said the proposal was evolving, and it wasn't clear whether some or all of the garages would be part of the deal.

The plan was billed as a more viable alternative to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's proposal to lease all parking garages -- and potentially surface lots and meters -- to a private entity and use the proceeds to shore up the pension fund.
Now, aside from the obvious flaws (the fact that the Pension Fund runs the pension fund, not garages; the historical mismanagement of the pension fund at that; the asset "swap" for the Parking Authority would be a loss on their books; etc.), the major flaw of this whole plan is that the City isn't thinking broadly enough. There are literally thousands of things that the City could be selling in order to fill up the pension fund:

  • Delinquent Taxes - Right now, the City sells them off to Jordan Tax Services, GLS, Capital Assests, or any other collection agency for an up front chunk of cash, while the collection agency tried to squeeze money from dead beats. But, rather than tossing those liens down a caulis negris, the City could give the delinquent tax liens to the Pension Fund and have *them* sell it off to the collections agency.

  • Asphalt plant - When I think of Pension Fund, I immediately think of skidding out on a slick road and then cracking my front end off of a 12 inch deep pothole that's been left unattended for years.

  • City Vehicle Fleet - If you're a middle manager and you need a City car, it'll cost you $8 for the hour. The downside is that, in order to lower future costs, the Pension Fund may decide to cut break lines in the hopes that you'll "remove yourself" from the pension pool. (Actually this would probably be no different than driving a Toyota now.)

  • The City-County Building - If the City leases it back from the pension fund, for the City it would come under the month budget, and not under the capital account.

  • Water Lines - Nope, wait we've done that.

  • Yarone Zober - A nice boy like him would probably fetch a decent price on the open market, and he's probably big enough for a couple of good steaks and a few stews. (Although, honestly I like my meat a little more lean.)

  • The Pension Fund - The City could have the Pension Fund sell the Pension Fund to the Pension Fund, take the write off for the loss and then purchase it back at a discount.

    Or alternatively, as I've suggested before: we take the whole fund, go over to the Rivers Casino when table games open up and bet on black.

  • 1 comment:

    Mark Rauterkus said...

    When the pension fund owns the parking garages, will there be a deed transfer tax and annual property taxes paid by the pension fund to the city treasury? Neither Lamb nor Dowd have made any comment on this to my direct questions.