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NEW THIS WEEK, October 15, 2018: 

City Public Pension Plans — Those That Go It Alone vs. Those that Share the Liability with Other Governments
Use of Foreign Trade Zones and Economic Development Projects to Help Deal with Financial Challenges
Daily Municipal Bond Yield Curve  —   (October 11, 2018) 
New Issue Muni Bond Weekly Calendar   – Week of  October 15, 2018  

Featured Bond Issue for the Week of October 15, 2018:  The Metropolitan Government of Nashville-Davidson, TN 

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Use of Foreign Trade Zones and Economic Development Projects to Help Deal with Financial Challenges and Lack of Sufficient Tax Revenues

 

by James E. Spiotto, Co-Publisher of MuniNet
The new reality of tariff wars and 20% surcharges on foreign manufactured parts and goods

The tax reform of 2018 created a 20% surcharge on foreign manufactured goods or parts coming into the United States. Recent U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has triggered reciprocal tariffs on U.S. exports to foreign countries. The ability to attract new business and help current businesses in the Midwest to expand will depend on the states’ ability to deal with this new reality. One such method is the use of foreign trade zones.

What is a Foreign Trade Zone?

Around the world there are specially designated areas within countries’ borders that are established and controlled by national legislation and through which the receiving, handling, manufacturing, repurposing, and exporting of goods can occur free from import duties and taxes.  These areas are usually known as free trade zones.

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Cincinnati — Taking a Look at One City’s Approach to Alleviating the Burden of Pension Legacy Costs

 

Cincinnati Retirement System Funding Ratio

Legacy costs, especially for mature cities, can carry a long lasting burden on the finances of municipalities challenged by massive unfunded pension liabilities and retiree health care costs.   Those cities most affected by these burdens also typically experience high levels of fixed costs required for debt service and OPEB payments in addition to their pension contribution requirements.   Measured against their total spending (i.e. governmental activities expenditures), high fixed costs place a squeeze on current tax dollars to cover operations, provide for public safety and the costs to repair and replace infrastructure.

Once they are in place, trying to lower legacy costs by restructuring public pensions can be like moving a mountain whenever benefits and expectations are already locked into the mindset of active and retired employees.   The city of Cincinnati serves as a good example of a city that in recent years has tried to tackle the problem.  In its case, it took nearly seven years of confrontation and negotiation to make the effort happen.

Cincinnati’s Collaborative Agreement 

Out of the city’s four pension plans, the City of Cincinnati maintains one single employer plan, the Cincinnati Retirement System (CRS), which has been in place for the benefit of its employees since 1931.  The CRS is the largest of all its plans and the source of the city’s highest unfunded pension liability.   The city’s other three plans are smaller liability cost sharing multi-employer plans.

 

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Funding Ratios for City Government Multi-Employer Plans Don’t Get the Attention that Single Employer Plans Receive

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While most government watchdogs focus heavily on single employer public pension plans accountable only to a single city,  multi-employer plans account for about 41% of the total pension liabilities for all city governments.  One reason that multiple employer plans don’t get much attention is that the information related to calculating the net pension liablities for participants in these plans requires additional analytical calculations not available in a CAFR  to determine them.   The charts below provide a snapshot assessment of a few of the key statistical details derived by Merritt Research Services, LLC to draw some comparisonw between single employer/agent plans and multiple employer plans.

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City Pension Liabilities




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