Philadelphia Consultant Says Fixes Needed For Fire And Police Pension Fund

Monday, September 9, 2013
Vijay Kapoor gave presentation
Vijay Kapoor gave presentation

A Philadelphia consultant hired by the administration of Mayor Andy Berke on Monday night told members of the new fire and police pension task force that fixes are needed to shore up the plan and protect city and taxpayer interests.

Vijay Kapoor of Public Financial Management (PFM) said at the group's first meeting at the Public Library that the fund is funded at 63 percent, but "to be blunt you want it at 100 percent."

He said, "Chattanooga is not Detroit," but he said he had "serious concerns" about the local plan.

He said PFM helped achieve marked improvements for the Lexington, Ky., fire and police pension fund, but he said it required concessions, including raising the retirement age, having members put in 12 percent of pay instead of 11 percent and reducing cost of living increase benefits. He said both sides hammered out the pact.

Mr. Kapoor said the local plan currently has almost $150 million in unfunded liabilities. He said the city's contribution has grown over 100 percent since 1998 and was $13.3 million this year. 

At the close of the meeting, a number of fire and police officers gave opinions or asked questions. One said it appeared the meeting was "kind of one-sided." Another asked if the pension board and its experts would have a chance to make presentations.

Travis McDonough, the mayor's chief of staff who presided, said the 10 fire and police current and retired officers on the panel represent the pension board. He said PFM is talking closely with pension board officials and using their actuary's latest numbers from January.

He said if there is not a consensus reached by the task force that the PFM recommendations will still go forward to the mayor and the City Council.

Mr. McDonough said this administration will deal with the issue and not pass it along to another administration.

Police Chief Bobby Dodd said the situation is complicated by the fact there are at least six different groups of beneficiaries. He said the effect of changes needs to be considered for all the groups.

Local pension recipients currently get 3 percent cost of living increases Jan. 1 of each year.

It was noted that benefit costs went up significantly after a DROP plan was inserted in 2001. Fire and police members said that plan was the city's idea.

Mr. Kapoor and Mr. McDonough both noted that fire and police do not get Social Security benefits and rely on the pension payments. Mr. McDonough said the plan will be kept strong enough so the city can continue to draw quality candidates.

Mr. Kapoor said the financial rating agencies, including Moody's, have begun taking a closer look at municipal pension fund liabilities. He said Moody's recently lowered the ratings of a number of cities based on that factor.

Mr. Kapoor said he would be contacting members of the group individually for their input. He said he would be seeking input toward reaching an agreement on a new benefit program.

The next meeting is Oct. 7.

Click here to read the presentation.

Police Chief Bobby Dodd, Chief of Staff Travis McDonough and Fire Chief Lamar Flint
Police Chief Bobby Dodd, Chief of Staff Travis McDonough and Fire Chief Lamar Flint

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ANDERSON, CODY LEE  4601 ENGLISH AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37407  Age at Arrest: 18 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga CRIMINAL TRESPASSING THEFT OF PROPERTY VANDALISM/MALICIOUS MISCHIEF --- ANGEL, LATOSHA ADA  49 BICE LANE GRAYSVILLE, 37338  Age at Arrest: 36 years old Arresting ... (click for more)

Woman Arrested For Leaving Small Child And Puppy Inside Hot Car At Chattanooga State

Shea Anderson, 24, was arrested for leaving a small child, a pit bull, and a puppy unattended inside a hot car on Friday. Police were dispatched to the parking lot behind the Branch Center for Advanced Technology building at Chattanooga State at 1:50 p.m. They found a small girl sweating inside a white SUV and a pit bull in the front floorboard of the vehicle. Police said ... (click for more)

Marvelous News From Central High School

To Roy Exum:     With all the recent news of major dysfunctions within our educational system, I thought I might alert you to something better. About a year ago you ventured up Highway 58 to Central High School to represent your late grandfather, Roy McDonald, as he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus during the annual Senior Day festivities. I sort of expected ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Yes, A Social Experiment

JoeySalads, his screen name, is widely known for his funny pranks except for the fact he calls them “social experiments.” So while we are still on the transgender-restroom issue, our boy JoeySalads got a transgender friend to approve his attire before he tried his luck at entering women’s restrooms. I don’t think you’ll be real surprised at what really happened in this video. Click ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Hosts Inter-Squad Scrimmage Saturday

Chattanooga FC will hold an Inter-squad match Saturday, May 7th, 7:00pm at Finley Stadium. The event is open to the public and free for all who attend.  The 2016 roster is set! The Inter-squad match will be the first chance for fans to see their CFC team in action. After the game, everyone will have the opportunity to get autographs, take photos, and talk with players, ... (click for more)

Baylor's Kayla Hughes Named FCA Christian Athlete Of The Year

Baylor School softball star, Kayla Hughes, was named the Greater Chattanooga FCA’s Christian Athlete of the Year at the ministry’s annual Day of Champions Sunday afternoon at Ridgedale Baptist Church.  Hughes, who will continue her softball career at Tennessee Tech, was chosen from among twelve high school FCA senior leaders nominated by area schools.  This is the 53rd ... (click for more)