Sunday, November 22, 2009

Half a billion

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Howard County government, despite receiving a AAA bond rating, has half a billion dollars worth of unfunded retirement obligations. You may recall from a year or two ago that there was a big brouhaha about the unfunded retirement health benefits to be paid to retired county workers. The future value of those obligations has ballooned to $826 million, the present value of which is $460 million. This means that the Howard County government has promised the present value of $460 million worth of benefits (about 25% of the total budget!) to it's workers without funding those promises first. Therefore, future taxpayers are stuck paying the bill for services provided to previous taxpayers.

Ulman initially planned to set aside $10 million to start chipping away at the liability, but instead used that money to plug other budget holes. It seems like when economic times are bad, it's easy to put off payment until the fiscal picture improves. And yet when economic times are good, there's always something else that they'd rather spend the money on.

Politicians are experts at exactly one thing: sticking the next generation of taxpayers with the bill for what was consumed today.


Anonymous said...

Doesn't the County Exec get a full pension for life? Another downside of electing a woefully inexperienced 32-year old as our CE.

That, and Healthy Howard. Oh, and the fluffy CV.

Related question: Mayor Fenty drives himself to work. Isn't DC a little more dangerous than Howard County?