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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Wednesday, Sept. 5

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LORP - The rest of the story ...

To the editor:

As a retired businessman with many years experience with financial statements, data analysis and informed decision making, I find myself frustrated with the Halifax County School System.  

The presentation made to the Halifax County School Board regarding the “Local Option Retirement Program (LORP)” last Thursday (Aug. 30) was, unfortunately, both incomplete and misleading.  

While the “costs” of the program were stated, the “savings” were never shown nor discussed, and the “net” result was missing completely.    

To do an accurate analysis, we must ask the question, “What would the personnel expenses have been if these LORP retirees had not accepted early retirement?”   

It was also obvious that many members of the board do not understand the complete financial picture and the true savings to the school system realized by LORP.  Therefore, they may have made their decisions regarding the program without complete and accurate information.

Please allow me to explain.

Before I begin, let me correct a statement made that most of the retirements would have happened anyway due to natural “attrition.”  This is simply not true.  Virtually none of these people would have retired early without the school board created LORP early retirement incentive.  Why would they?  

They were at the top of their earnings curve, were still receiving VRS credits and payments increasing their pension, still earning Social Security credits, etc.  They would not have retired without the school’s LORP incentive.

The LORP system was created, implemented and operated by the school board to reduce personnel expenses in order to balance the budgets.

Here’s an example of how it works:

Potential teacher retiree annual salary $50,000

Replacement (new) teacher annual salary - $32,000

Gross savings = $18,000

LORP compensation (20 percent of original pay) + $10,000

Budget savings = $8,000

Required 20 days substitute teaching for all LORP participants

($50,000/180 school days = $278 per day) ............... + $5,560

Note: At $65 per day (certified and licensed teachers are

worth more than that) this would be $1,300

NET BUDGET SAVINGS = $13,560 PER YEAR

There is much more in additional savings to the schools from early retirements not reflected here.

If you include the cost of keeping the retiree on the health insurance ($7,500/year?), the net budget savings is still $6,060.  Believe me; none of these people would have even considered retiring if they could not have continued their health insurance.

LORP does not cost the Halifax County Public Schools anything. It’s better than free.  For every $10,000 they pay a LORP retiree, they realize a $13,560 return (profit).  

These “savings” were the very reason the LORP early retirement incentive was created in the first place.  As any businessman will tell you, this is a really good deal, a great return on investment.

And these savings are realized every year (not just the first) of LORP participation up to the seven years of stated eligibility.  

Apparently the now retired CFO, Bill Covington, understood this and presented it to the board this way.  

It also seems apparent that the current CFO and board don’t understand this. 

What once was a “win-win” has turned into a “win-lose.”  

The board has voted to “terminate” the LORP early retirement incentive thereby “saving” the $10,000 per retiree compensation apparently thinking that now that they have gotten as many people as possible to retire, they can just end the program.

Offer the incentive - get them to retire - withdraw the incentive.  In my opinion, this is a classic “bait and switch,” a textbook “double-cross.”

As I see it, there are only two “win-win” fair solutions to this situation.

1. Reinstate LORP as it was formulated.

- OR   -

2. If you insist on “terminating” school board’s LORP early retirement incentive program, then each and every LORP retiree must be given the option of “terminating” their early retirement returning to their former job (they do have seniority) as though they never retired in the first place.

In my opinion, doing anything less would be at the very least unfair and unethical.  

I urge the Halifax County School Board and administration to carefully and thoroughly reconsider their decision.  To reverse or modify a poor or uninformed decision is admirable, to stick to it is unforgivable

Dave Strom

South Boston

 

Heard everything now

To the editor:

Now I’ve heard everything. The South Boston Town Council wants to build a brand new library facility in probably the most costly location in Halifax County. 

I propose that, if we actually do build a new library in Centerville, we also build a new courthouse next door to it for exactly the same reasons. This would be a real plus because we could also avoid the huge cost of refurbishing the old one. 

Now that would create at least one more empty building in South Boston and possibly two in Halifax. But probably no one would ever notice. 

That is, except for those people paying property taxes.

I do appreciate the fact that two libraries serving this rural community is a little much, but spending more money on moving them both and building a new facility or renting an older grocery store in Centerville is money not well spent.

There are many predictions about what will happen to libraries as a result of the Internet. Here is one:

 

Which Future 

For Libraries

“The future of the library is easy to predict – there won’t be any. Funding will move to other core areas for cities – traffic, water, dealing with global warming, competing for young people in an aging society; post-oil energy problems. Libraries will slip down the priority radar as they will not be seen as a response to these issues.” (http://www.metafuture.org/Articles/which-future-for-libraries.htm)

Margaret Thatcher once said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money [to spend].”

(http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Margaret_Thatcher)

Dan Shaw

Halifax

 

The prepared voter

To the editor: 

Election day will be here soon. Some voters (self included) go to vote believing to be prepared and find question(s) on the ballot I have not heard about. Being uncomfortable in taking the time to read the question through, that voter makes his or her best guess. Most times the question is written so that a “yes” vote may mean “no” and “no” may mean “yes.” If the voter has had the chance to read through the question(s) ahead of time and discussed it with others, then that person’s vote truly reflects their desire. 

Some counties mail a sample ballot to all households. I realize that this can be expensive, but may l suggest an alternative. Is it possible for your paper to publish sample ballots before the election? Knowing what is on the ballot in advance may encourage more folks to take the time to voice their opinion.

Thank you,

Bob Mason

Vernon Hill


Thanks to guard soldiers, airmen, families

To the editor:

To the soldiers, airmen and families of the Virginia National Guard:

With the return of about 30 soldiers of the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division from Afghanistan in early July, the Virginia National Guard reached a historic point in its history: there are no Virginia Army or Air Guard units serving on federal active duty. However there are still a number of individual soldiers and airmen serving around the world.

While this is only a temporary downturn of units scheduled for possible mobilization in the near future, this is a good time for all Virginians to recognize the important mission of the National Guard in our fight for freedom. Today’s Virginia National Guard is the best trained, best equipped and most experienced force our commonwealth has experienced in sometime. I want to personally express my appreciation and that of a grateful commonwealth for the outstanding service of our men and women of the National Guard.

In the last 10 months, we have seen the return of Guard units from Iraq and Afghanistan where they distinguished themselves for outstanding service. Whether it was the Soldiers of Task Force 183 providing security for critical supply convoys in Iraq; the aviators of the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment flying combat air assault missions in Iraq; the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team leading active Army and NATO troops in counter insurgency operations in Afghanistan; the soldiers of the Provincial Reconstruction Team Security Force Platoon supporting operations to rebuild infrastructure, assist with agriculture, build wells and provide healthcare to the people across the many provinces of Afghanistan; or the airmen of the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron conducting civil engineering projects throughout the region, the Virginia Guard performed with distinction and set a high mark for what this country can expect from its National Guard.

Citizen soldiers and airmen have a difficult challenge in balancing their full-time civilian careers with maintaining a high state of readiness in order to rapidly respond to the call of the commonwealth and to the nation during times of need. Since I became governor, I have been honored to meet and thank many of you. It is important that all guardsmen, their families and their employers know how much I and my administration appreciate your sacrifice on behalf of the commonwealth and nation.

The commonwealth owes a special debt of gratitude to our guard families for their support of the mission. They are too often the unsung heroes, and my family knows first-hand the challenges faced as they wait for their deployed loved ones to return home. I thank each of you for your support and patriotism.

We must also remember the brave heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice while on missions overseas. They laid down their lives so that others might have the chance to live a better life based on democratic ideals, free from tyranny. We must never forget these outstanding Virginians. 

The Virginia National Guard will continue to support the needs and challenges of the nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company recently received a mobilization order to begin federal active duty in April 2013 to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The 1710th’s commitment to duty, like those before them, will be fully supported by those of us at home.

In closing, I offer my sincerest thanks and appreciation for the tremendous work and incredible sacrifice of our Virginia Guard soldiers, airmen, families and citizen workforce for everything you have done to help defend the ideals of freedom that we all hold so dear.

Sincerely,

Robert F. McDonnell

Richmond