Inside Tucson Business | Group says city employees due millions in pension payouts

Findings from TUA’s pension project on Tucson, Arizona, are featured in this article from Inside Tucson Business.

A taxpayer watchdog group in Illinois has released a study saying Tucson government retirees could receive millions of dollars in lifetime pension payouts.

Taxpayers United of America, a libertarian leaning but politically non-affiliated advocacy group, put together an analysis of the city’s highest-paid pensioners and their estimated lifetime retirement payouts.

According to the group’s analysis, the retirees’ annual pensions range from $113,979 to $67,355. All told, the retirees receive $3.9 million per year in pension payments.

“These people are being paid an astronomical amount of money for 30 to 40 years to do absolutely nothing,” said Jim Tobin, founder and president of Taxpayers United of America.

Tobin said the group advocates having all new government hires on 401(k) and Social Security instead of the traditional publically funded pension plans that many government employees are on.

The group also advocates for government employees to pay for 50 percent of their health premiums.

“They defend pensions by saying they deserve it, but it doesn’t happen in the private sector anymore,” Tobin said.

According to the group’s calculations, many of the city retirees will earn as much as $3.4 million in pension payments. They base the figure on a retirement age of 55 and assume the pension payments will extend for 30 years.

City employees are only eligible for early retirement at age 55 if they have at least 20 years service.

The city’s Tucson Supplemental Retirement System Pension Fund has a budget for the current fiscal year of $68.1 million.

According to a 2011 guide to the pension fund, two-thirds of the pre-investment proceeds funding comes from city contributions. Employee contributions make up the remainder.

City employees are required to contribute at five percent of their gross wages.

Tobin called pension systems “immoral” and said that they were growing increasingly unsustainable.

“That’s the worst part about it,” he said. “We’re forced to pay their million-dollar pensions.”

Copies of the reports are online at

1 Response

  1. Michael Hermanson says:

    I would like to look at the details of your report supporting your claims; since the average pension benefit for City of Tucson employees is at $21,452 annually for the year ended June 30, 2012. A very wide stretch to state “we’re forced to pay their million-dollar pensions”.

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