Fire And Police Pension Officials Up In Arms Over Latest Berke Pension Task Force "Scenario"

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Officials of the Chattanooga Fire and Police Fund are up in arms over the latest "scenario" from the Berke administration on changes to cut the cost of the pension program.

Chris Willmore, president of the Pension Board, said, "If this goes in, fire and police from all ranks will up and quit, including those who are nowhere near their retirement age."

He said the board earlier submitted its own cost-cutting plan. He said it would bring savings of over $126 million.

Mr. Willmore said fire and police are willing to make some concessions, "but, my goodness, not this dramatic. Not something that is so out in leftfield. I shudder at this."

He said the proposal said the change would cripple fire and police hiring. "Nobody would want to come work for the city."

Mr. Willmore said the change would amount to a five percent pay cut for fire and police, plus provide reduced retirement benefits.

He added, "The benefits are not worth what you would have to pay. It's like paying for a Cadillac and getting a Nova."

Frank Hamilton, pension fund administrator, said the latest task force figures "are not comparable anywhere in the region."  

The proposal was shown during a morning pension board member by Fire Capt. David Brooks, who is on the task force.

A number of those at the meeting snapped shots of the sheet on their cell phones and posted it on Facebook.

Fire and Police have set up their own Facebook page on the issue, which has already brought 41 retirements this year.

The change would change the retirement age to 58 or after 32 years of service.

There would be no cost of living adjustment until age 62, then it would be limited to one percent.

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