Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Lifeboats to the left

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The Waukesha Taxpayer League has a handy-dandy timeline on the controversial OPEB Trust Fund. Just in time, Director of Business Services/Comptroller Erik Kass is leaving for the Madison school district.

School official set to take Madison job
Waukesha – In addition to finding a new superintendent, the Waukesha School Board now will have to replace its top business official after the one it hired less than 1 1/2 years ago accepted another job.

Erik Kass, the Waukesha district’s executive director of business services, has been offered a job as assistant superintendent of business in the Madison Metropolitan School District. His appointment is scheduled to be voted on by Madison’s School Board on May 5, said Bob Nadler, Madison’s executive director of human resources.

“It was an extremely tough decision,” said Kass, 29, who had served as the Waukesha district’s controller for about three years before taking over the top business job in January 2007. “I love my job here, and it’s nothing against Waukesha.”

Madison has been without a permanent business manager for nearly a year.

Meanwhile, you might have missed Amy Hetzner’s critical piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online on borrow-to-invest schemes for school districts:

Five Wisconsin public school districts’ decision to borrow-to-invest to help fund employee retirement benefits has spurred a column in the online edition of a national trade magazine cautioning other public officials who might have similar ideas.

The column, which is now on the Web site for the Governing magazine, is skeptical of the schemes, in which the districts formed trusts that borrowed millions of dollars that they invested in collateralized debt obligations. As global interest rates have changed, the value of the CDOs purchased by the districts – Kenosha, Kimberly, Waukesha, West Allis-West Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay – have plummeted.

An upcoming article in the New York Times Magazine, slated for publication on Sunday, explains why some CDOs with high credit ratings are no longer the safe investments they were thought to be.

The Governing.com column, in addition to warning municipalities and school districts about borrowing for their retirement liabilities, also suggests federal regulators “look into this fiasco” in Wisconsin.

Perhaps if the problem because widespread enough the legislature might show an interest in the matter. Maybe Erik Kass will bring the same plan to the Madison school district and put it right under their noses.

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