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Pensions get boost from $1 million in BP funds

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

When the town froze its pension funds and employees were moved to the state system, it left an unfunded liability of about $28 million. That is money the town will have to add to that fund before the last beneficiary is paid. The current commission and Town Manager Dave Bullock have paid down that obligation to about $21 million currently and last Wednesday, voted to offset an additional $967,931 that British Petroleum (BP) paid to the town in a settlement against a claim for damages resulting from the oil spill in 2010.

Bullock refers to this as an extra payment and “a responsible use of funds. But last Wednesday night at the regular commission meeting, Vice Mayor Terry Gans felt a bit differently.

“I’m concerned that the philosophy behind getting these funds in the first place was to make us whole after damage BP did to our tourism and infrastructure. I would like to see the money go toward the appeal of the island whether for residents or tourists,” said Gans.

Mayor Jack Duncan described the money as “a windfall” and said that it needed to be shared with all of the citizens of Longboat Key.

“I think it should go to Bayfront Park but people do not agree. I also think beaches are something we all relish. Also, the pension is a critical issue. I would like to prioritize our ideas,” said Duncan.

After Duncan spoke, consensus was reached to workshop exactly where the near-million dollars in BP money.

Commisioner Phill Younger spoke out and said that the pensions were his priority, if they had to vote on this item.

After that statement, Commissioner Lynn Larson formally made a motion to vote to allocate the money to the pensions and not anywhere else.

“I do not think there is a  more important issue on this island,” said Larson.

The vote succeeded with Larson, Duncan, Younger and Commissioner Irwin Pastor in support and Commissioners Jack Daly, Pat Zunz and Gans in dissent.

 

 

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Longboat Key News

1 Response for “Pensions get boost from $1 million in BP funds”

  1. Gene Jaleski says:

    given the number of DROP employees who will be cashing out this year, the commission must be breathing a sigh of relief that they will not have to raise taxes yet again to cover the retirement cash-outs. I wonder if anyone told the commissioners that there would be a high cash cost to having employees choosing to leave town employment, given the grim future presented to the employees by the town. I believe that LBK no longer is in the top 25 percentile of municipalities. That is unfortunate for any premier community that relies on quality living as a cornerstone for property values. I believe there is only a single remaining department supervisor remaining since the town manager came to LBK.

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