April 17, 2014  
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The Week in Public Finance: Detroit, UConn Dominance and Pension Warnings

Apr 14, 2014 (13:08:30)

Fitch Ratings agency gave the latest settlement in Detroit’s bankruptcy trial between bond insurers and the city its stamp of approval this week (beginning April 7). The settlement will give the insurers of unlimited tax general obligation bonds (ULTGOs) 74 cents on the dollar, a return that Fitch said was more in line with its “expectation for how such securities would fare in bankruptcy.” (When bonds are insured, the insurers – in this case Assured Guaranty, Ltd, Ambac Assurance Corp. and National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation – rather than the bondholders stand to lose their investment.) The ULTGOs were voter-approved bonds to be paid back via a property tax. The previous offer from Detroit Emergency Manager Kevin Orr was 15 cents on the dollar, a decrease from the initial 20 cents proposed in the city’s readjustment plan. Read more:

Public Pensions and the Lessons of Success

Apr 14, 2014 (13:07:23)

Do we learn more from success or failure? When it comes to state- and local-government pensions, we tend to focus on the plans that are struggling. But there are valuable lessons to learn from public-sector retirement plans that have remained well funded and from governments that have successfully negotiated changes to put their pension systems on a path to full funding. Read more:

Detroit public safety unions decry city's 'no-mercy' bargaining

Apr 14, 2014 (13:06:16)

Detroit — Representatives of the city’s public safety unions decried Thursday the city’s “no-mercy” approach to bankruptcy negotiations as it continues to push “staggering” cuts for Detroit’s police and firefighters, they say. Read more:

Police, firefighters unions say Kevyn Orr's plan puts art above pensions

Apr 14, 2014 (13:05:25)

Leaders of Detroit’s public safety unions signaled today that they will not accept the pension cuts emergency manager Kevyn Orr has proposed. But they left the door open for negotiations. Read more:

Detroit Mayor "Works to Be Hands-on"

Apr 11, 2014 (14:04:32)

Mayor Mike Duggan is cementing his reputation as a hands-on mayor even as the limitations on his power in office open him up to vulnerabilities. Read more:

City won't have to borrow for $20 million in firefighter back pay

Apr 11, 2014 (14:03:34)

Chicago firefighters and paramedics will get more than $20 million in back pay without adding to the city’s mountain of debt, under a five-year contract that forfeits union givebacks for the possibility of pension reform. Read more:

Springfield Fire Department Prepares For Advanced Life Support Arrival

Apr 11, 2014 (14:00:45)

It's a project that has been years in the making for the Springfield Fire Department. Despite dozens of firefighters already trained as paramedics, their skills couldn't be used until an ambulance arrived. Read more:

Talks on shared fire services in Genesee County need to happen, says commission chair

Apr 11, 2014 (13:59:46)

Seven years after county Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Curtis proposed regionalized fire protection, he's suggesting "the conversation needs to happen" again. Read more:

Cleveland Fire Department payroll scandal: Your questions answered

Apr 11, 2014 (13:58:57)

After two-and-a-half years of investigation and news coverage, the Cleveland Fire Department payroll scandal is winding to an anti-climactic conclusion with the guilty plea Thursday of the most prolific of the shift-trade abusers identified by a city audit in 2011. Read more:

Chicago firefighters reach tentative contract; no pension reform in deal

Apr 11, 2014 (09:35:30)

The Chicago Firefighters Union has reached a tentative contract agreement wth the city that bolsters ambulance service and gives firefighters an 11-percent pay raise over five years but does not include pension or retiree health care reform. Read more:

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