To the Editor:
Recently, a Florida lifeguard was fired because he left his perimeter briefly to save a drowning person, which brings me to the issue of rescue runs going into Providence. As the Republican Mayoral Candidate in this year’s election, I feel compelled to express my views regarding recent events, overall concerns, statements by our present mayor including his positions so voters can see the contrasts that will enable them to cast a more informed vote.
Soon our in which our mayor stated: “My responsibility is to the taxpayers of the town of Johnston,” and “What do I tell a family when their child dies choking on a grape because the rescue was in Providence?”
The reality is, accidents will always happen and be unpredictable, so what do we tell a family whose child is choking on a grape in the next community when are rescues are sitting idle? The crux of this issue is the Almighty Buck that’s to be extracted from Johnston taxpayers in a multitude of unjustifiable ways.
Johnston firefighters make approximately $100,000 when you include benefits, and 95% of the time, they're responding to fender-benders and transporting people to hospitals. If our rescues are idle and someone is in dire need in the next community, how could we in good conscience not respond?
The unions have bankrupted Providence and soon we may be at the mercy of other communities as ourselves; all because of unionized labor costs in which we need leadership that has the courage to examine the alternatives.
The mayor acknowledged much of the costs come about because of overtime during shift changes during morning and evening rush hours that are 8am to 6pm and 6pm to 8am; what he doesn’t mention is all the other incredible costs.
So what are some of these costs and alternatives?
First, we could have private industry analyze our demographics and see what they come up with. Also, we could privatize the rescue aspects. Next, we could develop a certified standby system to cover for those out sick, on vacation, taking a personal day or attending union business on the taxpayer’s dime. Also, we could change the shifts to 9:30am to 7:30pm and 7:30pm to 9:30am.
The best alternative would be to make all shifts part-time whereas firefighters would simply have one shift a week in which there would be no benefits whatsoever, other than an accidental death policy which is $250,000.
Realizing every $1.6M is the equivalent of a dollar per thousand in property taxes, if we were to cut the $13,664,666 budget in half it would be the equivalent of approximately $1,000 for a home valued at $200,000.
If firefighters work 15 minutes overtime they receive an hour at time and one half, and if called back in an emergency they are paid a minimum of 4 hours overtime. Also, we provide for $75,000 life insurance policies. Next, there must be 21 firefighters on shift at all times that has resulted in approximately $5.5M in overtime over the last 3 years.
Longevity Bonuses range from 6.5% to 14.5% of gross income which this year cost taxpayers $379,597 that averaged $5,134 with some as high as $8,523 $8,111 $6,813 etc... Vacations at 20 years are 8 weeks in addition to 3 personal days, 20 sick days and 15 holidays. Family healthcare plans cost $19,500 that just increased 9.2% under Obama Care in which they contribute $2,340 a year. At this time I’m inquiring about the amounts of the severance packages that are in the tens of thousands.
As for pensions that range from $102,000, $81,624, $78,000, $79,164 they are based on 50% of their 3 highest consecutive years that include weekly salaries, longevity bonuses, holidays and severance packages that include unused vacation time, personal days, sick leave in addition to 75% of the 3 highest consecutive years of overtime; the bottom line is you’d have to be a rocket scientist and criminologist to try to understand the mathematics and how these pensions evolved and when you include continued fully paid healthcare for life at now approximately $20,000 it‘s insane.
The above provisions are just some of the many that should not be. Note: according to OSHA, of the 15 most dangerous jobs in America firefighters are not on it — e.g. fisherman, logger men, farmers, miners, roofers, trash haulers, cab drivers and truck drivers etc., — and yet we pay them a king's ransom in which I thank the forgotten taxpayers who make it “all” possible.
In closing, our state is ranked 45th for highest state and local taxes and 43rd for highest gasoline taxes, yet we’re 50th for having the worst bridges and roads.
We need Right-to-Work Legislation and to abolish binding arbitration and collective bargaining. Unions in the private sector do not demand we purchase their goods and services which enable us to live within our means whereas in government they do. We are now at the verge of drastic tax increases in which in this next election we can either swim or drown.
Republican Mayoral Candidate Peter A. Filippi III Founder of the Johnston Taxpayers Association.