City Council Told That Fire And Police Pension To Cost $14.4 Million This Year; Consultants Hired To Study Fund

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The City Council was told Tuesday that the fire and police pension fund will cost $14.4 million in the upcoming budget.

Travis McDonough, chief of staff to Mayor Andy Berke, said that amount is up $2.1 million from the previous year.

He said if reforms are not taken "it will be up $1 million the year after that, and the year after that, and on and on."

"It is time to address the issue squarely on," he said.

The city is hiring consultants out of Philadelphia to help bring changes to the fund. Public Financial Management will be paid $90,500, plus expenses.

Mr. McDonough said the same group recently helped the city of Lexington, Ky., reduce its unfunded pension liabilities by 45 percent. 

He said Mayor Berke and his staff have been holding numerous meetings on the pension issue, including numerous sessions with the Fire and Police Pension Board.

He said there is agreement that changes need to be made that will continue to attract fire and police personnel to have long careers with the city, while at the same time "being responsible to the taxpayers."

Mr. McDonough said members of a task force on the issue will be announced soon. He said it will include current and retired fire and police personnel as well as community members.

Terry Knowles, president of the Fire and Police Pension board, said, “While this was not our preferred method to address the City’s concerns with our Fund, the Board looks forward to working with the Task Force and participating in these important discussions about our Plan and the impact possible changes will have on Police Officers, Firefighters and their families. 

"The Board has asked for greater representation on the Task Force to ensure this process is a collaborative effort that operates in an open, transparent and fair manner rather than one with a predefined outcome. I strongly believe this is the right position to have, especially given how city administrators have already indicated a fundamental bias against certain features of the Plan, including the DROP, cost-of-living adjustment and 25-year retirement.”

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