The Ficano File: Pension Reforms Seem Less Than Promised

July 10, 2013, 8:49 AM

The devil is in the details, as the aphorism goes, and Ross Jones at WXYZ sweats the details when it comes to dogging Bob Ficano.

Here's what he finds in a follow-up on plush pension perks at the Wayne County executive's office:

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano's office recently announced changes to the county's executive retirement plan, but the tweaks don't go as far as he first announced.

More than 18 months ago, Ficano said he wanted to cut down a lavish county perk that paid him and his appointees $5 for every $1 they put towards their 401k.  When the perk became a news story, Ficano said he’d act quickly to end it, changing the 5-to-1 match to a 1-to-1 match.

As it turns out, Jones senses some sleight of hand reminiscent of an attention-diverting shell game.

Instead of trimming the perk down to a 1-to-1 match, he changed it to a 4-to-1 match. It affects all new employees or those who’ve worked for Wayne County for less than 20 years.  But if you’ve worked more than that, like Ficano, you can still keep the 5-to-1. . . .

Ficano also reduced how much employees who receive a pension will get going forward.  Instead of getting 2.5% of your salary for every year of service, employees will only get 1.5% going forward.

The reporter speaks with former county auditor general Brendan Dunleavy, who's unimpressed.

 "The problem is so big and what you did is so small to fix it. It’s not going to make any difference," Dunleavy said.

He says Ficano’s fixes won’t go far enough in digging the county's pension fund out from a huge hole made worse, in part, by giving retirement deals to young appointees.

Read more:  WXYZ

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