Monday night’s Council Work Session was more information-packed than the actual meeting agenda items—all of which moved along quite smoothly. Thus, the focus of this FM will be on the important COLA issue.
We begin, however, with a misleading post from Paul Walden’s FB page, because it’s somewhat related in that it does deal with ethics—something important to watch for in the coming weeks.
Below is a typically misleading post from Councilman Walden, who has a penchant for using part truth while eliminating the whole truth in an attempt to skew one’s thinking. In this case it does point out ethical issues:
“Exciting news, look for the cranes and dozers soon for this new office building the Council approved recently (the Mayor recused himself from the vote).”
[This post referred to a Dallas Morning News article about construction beginning on the new office building on the Dallas North Tollway near LBJ Freeway being built by Cawley Partners.]
The point here is that while Mayor Meier did, indeed, recuse himself from this vote, he did so because of a commitment to ethics. He clearly stated prior to recusing himself that he would do so because, not him personally, but his law firm, represents the Ewing family, which owned this property. Recusing one self because of any possible conflict has always been considered good ethics in any business—particularly governmental business. A fan of the Mayor or not, he should be commended for making this ethical decision.
Walden—on the other hand–has his own ethical decision coming up regarding his personal interests as it relates to the upcoming COLA vote. His brother, a retired Addison police officer, will be directly impacted by his vote and while the City Attorney concluded it was not illegal for Walden to vote on the issue, there is a difference between legal justification and ethical behavior. This ethical decision is also impacted by the fact that financial contributions to Walden’s campaign also came from the very people the final vote will impact. Constituents will soon see how ethics play out with Councilman Walden.
TMRS Presents Information to Council Work Session
A lengthy, detailed presentation and discussion related to the Town of Addison’s participation in the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS) went so long that the presentation and discussion of the Housing Policy for the Town of Addison was postponed to December. Presenting information from TMRS were Deputy Executive Director Eric W. Davis and Director of Actuarial Services Leslee Hardy.
To put the content in perspective, TMRS representatives did their best to present a best-case scenario, as would any similar entity. However, given the extensive and complicated information presented it was clear, by several of the peculiar and unsophisticated questions asked by some council members that much of the complicated information was only fully understood by those with strong financial understanding and familiarity. The bottom line is:
- $55,000 is in this year’s budget to fund COLA should it be voted to fund
- $55,000 would need to be put in each year’s budget for the next 15 years to fund the COLA just for this year
- That’s a total of $835,425
- Add to this that the total unfunded liability has gone from $4.5M to $5M on the projection of 6.75% actuarial assumed rate of return
- If that actuarial rate is wrong, the Addison tax payer will be burdened with an increased tax rate in the future
The other issue that appeared to have little comprehension among some council members was Meier’s use of the term “chasing returns,” as it related to the aggressive returns anticipated. Walden, in particular, seemed not to feel this was an accurate statement by Meier, however Davis, himself, responded to Meier, “Yes sir, you’re right.”
One might ask the question of YOU, the average Addison resident investor. Are your investments getting a 6.75% return?
This whole issue has far little to do with how much employees are appreciated than it does with doing what’s right as it relates to fiscal responsibility and Addison’s sustainability from a long-term financial standpoint.
For those who are financially savvy we urge you to take the time to view the entire discussion and see for yourself the reality of this complicated issue. This is definitely not a decision that can be taken too lightly as its passage will definitely have long-term implications.
Few, if any, of the questions are yet resolved regarding the safe deposit box issue. Actually, more questions now appear to be raised than answered. Particularly Mr. Whitehead’s comment about “none” of the keys fitting the safe deposit box, begging the question, what other boxes are not known about. The reasoning for even having a box still doesn’t settle well with many also, leaving several still asking…why and will we ever really know the truth?
Lingering Questions about the Midway Road project
Particularly with Mr. Whitehead’s revealing that Guymon Phillips provided estimates, questions about the Midway Road project remain. Has the Town requested information from Mr. Phillips?
Two words—transparency and accountability—are often espoused as relates to good governance. It appears those two words are being tested seriously right now in Addison, Texas.
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