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City firefighters are hosing us on pensions

Sue Schulman's investigation into Buffalo firefighter pensions published Sunday and Monday once again leaves me wondering aloud if anyone in City Hall is really looking out for taxpayers. If they are, they're doing a lousy job.

Consider some of the numbers Schulman turned up in her analysis:

  • Firefighter pay averaged $79,970 in 2008.
  • Those retiring last year are drawing an average pension of $68,000.
  • Firefighters getting ready to retire earned an average of $45,000 overtime in their final year on the job, compared with $16,000 who were not planning to retire.

The way police officers and firefighters are allowed to game the system, and sometimes end up with a pension worth more than their base pay, amounts to nothing less than a fleecing of taxpayers.

I can find fault with those who lack the personal ethics to refrain from padding their pensions - or for calling in sick because of being "demoralized" over a job that pays nearly $80,000 a year, along with gold-plated benefits.

But the real shame lies with the politicians who allow these pension abuses to continue. And that's almost all of them. Starting in City Hall and going all the way to Albany.

Public Payroll Watch has a good summary of Schulman's findings  For more on Buffalo News investigations of police and education pension abuses, go here.

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