Mayor Berke Accepts Recommendation From Pension Task Force; Details Given

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mayor Andy Berke accepted a consensus recommendation on Thursday, from the Pension Task Force for reforms to the Fire & Police Pension Fund, pending review by the city’s actuary and legal counsel. The recommendation does not decrease monthly pension checks for retirees, he said. Based on initial estimates, the Pension Task Force "believes their recommendations will save taxpayers approximately $4 to $5 million annually and will ensure the fund is financially healthy for retirees in coming years."

“After months of discussion, the Pension Task Force has reached a consensus recommendation that puts the pension plan on a sustainable path in a fiscally responsible way,” said Mayor Berke. “I have reviewed the recommendation, and I am confident this is a strong set of benefits that will reach our shared goals for the Fire & Police Pension Fund.”

“This was difficult work, and I thank the Pension Task Force for the time and effort they put into this process. I’d also like to recognize the representatives of retiree and employee groups, like FOP, IBPO, and IAFF. They showed true leadership and solved a problem that had threatened their members retirement security; police officers and fire fighters should be proud of how strongly they were represented through this process,” he said.

The recommendation made by the Pension Task Force is subject to legal and actuarial review and includes the following: 

  • 100% benefits for public safety employees killed in the line of duty (31.25% increase);
  • An increase in benefits payable to elderly widows of public safety employees, currently received only $500 per month;
  • Sustained, yet cost-neutral, DROP benefit;
  • Temporary reconfiguration of the COLA structure so that those employees who receive the lowest pension benefits receive a higher COLA; and
  • Increased employee contributions phased in gradually over the next three years.

Last August, Mayor Berke formed the Pension Task Force and charged it with finding a consensus approach to reform benefits provided by the Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund. The Pension Task Force aims to ensure the pension plan achieves the following:

  • Attract public safety employees and encourage them to have long careers with the City;
  • Meet the City's obligations to police officers and firefighters; and
  • Use taxpayer dollars responsibly in order for Chattanooga to fund present day public safety initiatives.

Click here to read the recommendation.


Deputy Beaten After Vehicle Crashes In His Yard Sues Officers

A man who was mistakenly beaten by officers who had been pursuing a pickup truck that crashed into his home has sued Hamilton County and the officers for $700,000. Aaron Lucas Shelton and his wife, Heather Nicole Shelton, filed the suit in Circuit Court. Aaron Shelton is himself a deputy sheriff. It names Curtis Brian Killingsworth and unknown officers who allegedly took part ... (click for more)

Meigs County Judge To Hear Attorney Spanking Case

A Meigs County judge has been assigned to hear a case in which a Lookout Mountain attorney is charged with spanking his 11-year-old son with 100 hits. Judges in Hamilton County General Sessions Court recused themselves after Morgan Adams was charged with aggravated child abuse last Friday. He is due in court on April 24. According to the complaint, his son received spanks ... (click for more)

We Ought To Pay Our Own Way

The government is too big. It has never been bigger - by any measure. It spends more money than any other single actor in our society. From Blue Rhinos to providing telecommunications services, our government knows no bounds. We’ve gone from a free enterprise system to a public enterprise system.  I'm not an artist. I'm not terribly tech savvy. The part of government that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Secret Train Ride

It was during Christmas of 2003 when Bennett Levin and his wife found themselves talking and worrying about the wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, Md., and at the nearby Bethesda Naval Hospital. Their wish was that they could do something meaningful, something really grand, for the soldiers who had lost limbs, their eyesight, and far worse. As ... (click for more)

Central Boys Prevail Over Loudon By 12, Despite Redskins' Late Rally

Central coach Rick Rogers said that all he wanted to do was win and advance. His District 6-AA champion Purple Pounders played host to District 5-AA fourth-place finisher Loudon on Saturday evening and it probably shouldn't have been close. But someone forgot to tell the visiting Redskins. Central had a 13-point lead at halftime and the difference was 52-30 when the third ... (click for more)

Baylor Wrestlers Murphy, Seagraves in National Prep Semis

On the strength of placing two wrestlers in Saturday morning's championship semis, Baylor School is in 11th place (46 pts) at the National Prep Wrestling Championship held this weekend in Lehigh, Pa. Saturday Semis: Baylor junior and three-time state champ Michael Murphy has won three matches (two falls, one sudden death) and meets top seeded Matthew Colodzik (Blair Academy) ... (click for more)