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SUN NEWSPAPERS 7A

WEEKEND EDITION • OCTOBER 15, 2011

ANDERSON FROM PAGE 1 in Venice, where they occasionally vacationed. They moved here fulltime three years ago. Now Anderson wants to add his accounting expertise to Mayor John Holic’s financial planning background and Bob Daniels’ and Jeanette Gates’ business acumen, he said. Not one to shy away from a challenge, he got involved in Voters Choice, a grassroots effort to eliminate council health-

MAYOR FROM PAGE 6 Florida’s “Government-In-The-Sunshine Manual,” prepared by the Office of the Attorney General and published by the First Amendment Foundation, states the

THINKING FROM PAGE 1 and staff • meets a documented community need without duplicating services or programs • provides distinctive value to the community that improves the quality of life • leverages other sources of funding • maintains accurate financial records and is financially solvent • serves residents of Venice and communities “in our region” While dropping “of Venice” from its name is what has triggered public outcry, the foundation board’s decision to adopt a “regional” focus that extends well beyond the area its founders say it was intended to serve is what really has them irritated. What was originally The Venice Foundation was created from the sale of Venice Hospital, and many of its original board members also served on the hospital board or that of its parent corporation, Gulf Coast Medical Practices. They were intentionally rotated off the board

insurance benefits. If elected, he wants to tackle perhaps the biggest fiscal issue facing the city — its underfunded fire and police pensions. It may not make him popular with employees, but he says he has a plan for a soft landing to balance city revenues with employee needs. “We had to put in an extra $1 million last year because (investment) values had done down,” Anderson said. “We can’t wait for values to return.” His idea is to shrink the fire department’s $17 million and the police

department’s $10.6 million pension shortfalls. “We are all out of cash. We can’t sustain it. So we have to adjust it. Let’s make that gradual so it won’t hurt employees.” There are several ways to tackle the issue, he said. Change the age of retirement, or the contribution rate — even the salary calculation upon retirement. “Right now (a firefighter) can retire at 45 and get 100 percent of their salary. That’s very generous, and very young. Add one additional year until you move it up to 50 years of age before retire-

Sunshine Law “does not require boards to consider only those matters on a published agenda,” although it does recommend publishing an agenda. Otherwise, it would preclude the public from raising their own concerns at a meeting.

ment, and see what happens with the market. “Also, do you want to give them 100 percent of compensation? My dad was fire captain in San Jose, Calif. My brother is a firefighter. I know what type of benefits they get. “This is the most generous of any community I have ever lived in. The benefits at the earlier age really hurts the system because life expectancy is 80. That’s 40 years of collecting benefits at 100 percent of salary for working only 20 years.” Looking at what constitutes base salary is important, too, when

calculating retirement benefits, he said. “Some pensions use base pay. Others add overtime, special pay, vacation days and holiday pay.” That inflates the final five-year average upon which many pensions are based, Anderson said. “We’ve got to look at that. If you put in a lot of overtime in the last five years, you can bump that up to increase your benefits forever. “We have to examine what pieces are there, compare that to other jurisdictions and our revenues. Then go back to the

union and renegotiate.” Anderson even supports the idea of using outside auditors to check pension calculations provided by the current city pension boards that oversee those funds. “When we had the money we didn’t care so much. But in bad economic times it puts pressure on everybody. “We’re going in the right direction. Now we have to tweak and squeeze out as much money as we can to provide that level of service to the city.” Email: ggiles@venicegondolier.com

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quickly, according to Bob Miles, founding board chair, to avoid the impression that the foundation was controlled by hospital people. But it was still intended that the foundation serve the same area as the hospital — from Osprey to Boca Grande, according to its 2003 annual report. The specific area doesn’t appear in subsequent reports, which talk about “community” and occasionally “region” without defining either term. The 2011 Environmental Scan, which is titled “Gulf Coast Regional Priorities,” does make clear what it means to the foundation: the “Greater Gulf Coast Region” comprises Sarasota, Charlotte, Manatee and DeSoto counties. “Successful program grant applicants will clearly target important regional challenges or opportunities,” the guidelines state. The foundation that Miles said “never, ever” contemplated funding programs that help people outside the hospital service area now looks favorably on grant applicants that do exactly that.

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