KEYE-TV WasteWatch reported on a disturbing spending spree by the Office of the Fire fighters’ Pension Commissioner’s office. An yet-to-be-determined amount of money was spent on furniture by an agency which responsible for monitoring and assisting over 300 local fire fighter pension plans. Over half of those were volunteer firefighters.
The State Auditor report which came out Dec 30, 2013, revealed the problems in a letter sent to the Legislative Audit Committee by the State Auditor’s Office (http://www.sao.state.tx.us/reports/report.aspx?reportnumber=14-015).
It is particularly outrageous since the unfunded liability for all Texas public pension plans sits at around $44 billion, that one state agency head assigned to manage a public pension fund decided to blow year-end money on new furniture. Turns out the agency didn’t need the furniture, could not even fit into their offices, their agency was abolished and the new furniture now sits in state surplus facilities, still in boxes. It seems the commissioner wanted to use the funds rather than lose them. Unobligated funds at year-end go back to the state treasury.
The agency, which was subject to Sunset, is a poster child for why audits and the sunset process is needed. Seems it is easier for some officials to spend our money than to save us money.
Thanks to legislation by Sen. Bryan Birdwell, the legislature abolished the agency and merged its functions with the Texas Emergency Services Retirement System and the Texas local firefighters retirement systems. But not before taxpayers got fleeced.
We at AFP-Texas purchased our office furniture – with our own funds — from the state surplus. It is like paying for it twice. First, we taxpayers pay for the furniture for state offices and then when the state employees no longer need it or want new furniture, we taxpayers can purchase it again for our own use.
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View the full KEYE-TV report here: