The Berke administration on Thursday announced the members of the newly-formed Pension Task Force, charged with finding a consensus to reform the Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund.
In a letter sent to the City Council, Pension Board, City firefighters and police officers and organizations representing the public safety employees, Travis McDonough, chief of staff and counselor to Mayor Berke, listed the members of the Task Force and thanked the recipients for their input in the formation of the group.
The Task Force includes 18 members. Ten are active or retired firefighters and police officers, including Police Chief Bobby Dodd, Fire Chief Lamar Flint, and two members of the Pension Board. The remaining eight members are community leaders.
The panel includes retired police officer Jim Appleberry, David Brooks of the fire department, Stephanie Crowe of CapitalMark Bank, Fred Decosimo of Decosimo and Company, attorney Kurt Faires, Tripp Farmer, Fraternal Order of Police President Toby Hewitt, Lee Lee of Lee Smith Inc., Phillip McClain of the fire department, retired police officer Ken Neblette, attorney Chantelle Roberson, firefighter union president Jack Thompson, IBPO president Tim Tomisek and Ben Vance of Unum
“I created the task force to have meaningful, productive discussions to build a consensus on how the police and fire pension fund should be reformed,” said Mayor Berke. “Ultimately, we must have a pension plan that does three things - attracts public safety employees and encourages them to have long careers with the city; meets our obligations to our officers and firefighters; and uses taxpayer dollars responsibly so we can fund public safety initiatives today.”
The city of Chattanooga’s contribution to the fund has risen steadily in recent years, he said. In 2006, the city’s contribution was $6.5 million. In 2013, the city’s contribution was $12.3 million. Mayor Berke’s 2014 budget contributes $14.4 million to the pension fund. The fund is underfunded by at least $150 million, he said.
“I look forward to working with members of the Task Force and participating in these important discussions about our Pension Plan and the impact possible changes will have on the Fund and its members,” said Terry Knowles, president of the Chattanooga Fire & Police Pension Fund. “It’s my hope that this Task Force can work together in a collaborative effort and find a shared solution that addresses the City’s concerns while protecting this important retirement benefit for Firefighters, Police Officers and their families.”
The Pension Task Force is slated to hold its first meeting on Sept. 9. All meetings will be open to the public.