Fire And Police Pension Fund Board Votes Unanimously To Proceed With Pension Reform

Thursday, February 20, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

The Fire and Police Pension Fund Board voted unanimously to move forward with pension reforms that will save over $200 million over the next 25 years. Change became necessary after the stock market crash in 2008 caused the pension fund to lose a third of its assets.

After much research, the board determined that if everything stayed the same, the pension fund would not be available down the road. Mayor Andy Berke put together a Pension Task Force to work with the board to come up with a solution.



Before the vote, the board allowed some of the people who would be affected by the changes to have the floor to speak. The reform plan was greeted with mixed reactions.

One man said, "At the beginning of this process, I felt like there were not any real issues with the pension. Six months ago, I was angry and I felt there was a conspiracy by the city not to fund our pension. Over the last six months, I've actually learned quite a bit about the pension."

He continued, "My opinion changed after looking at the hard evidence. We have an issue with our pension." He said he felt the changes recommended by the Task Force were reasonable changes.

Another man who had attended the task force meetings said, "I've learned during the process that we indeed have a problem that required immediate action before the issue became too big to address."

He said, "If this proposal will put our fund on solid ground and make our fund healthy, I'm for it."

Retired Officer John Frasier disagreed. He told the board he believed some of the changes were not legal. However, Attorney Bill Robinson said pension reform had taken place in many other states and had not been ruled against in any court.

The Board also gave a presentation detailing the changes. With the reforms, contributions from active employees toward the pension fund will gradually increase. The cost of living adjustment, or COLA, will drop from 3 percent to 1.5 percent. However, retirees will not see reductions in their current benefits; increases will just come slower.

There were also changes pertaining to retirement age. Currently, personnel can retire after 25 years of service. For those currently not vested, it will go to age 50 if there are 25 years of service, or to 28 years of service at any age. For new hires, it will go to age 55 plus 25 years of service or 30 years at any age. There will be no change for vested personnel.

The board said there are some improvements in the plan, including paying 100 percent of a salary instead of 60 percent of salary to families of those killed in the line of duty. There are also enhancements for certain categories of widows.

Board President Chris Willmore said, "Change is always hard and difficult." However, he said since 2008, 48 other states have changed their pension plans. He said this was not a "quick snap decision," saying they had been working on a solution since 2009.

He said, "I don't think we were intimidated. We were trying to fix a very difficult, complex problem."

Board member Mark Hoffman said, "This process has not been an easy process."

He said, "You may not like me today, but I think in 10 years from now when you're still getting your benefit check, I think you'll have a different outlook."



Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

BOWMAN, DEANGELO DEMON  2300 WILSON ST APT 7M CHATTANOOGA, 37406  Age at Arrest: 24 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga IMPROPER PARKING DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA POSSESSING A FIREARM WITH INTENT TO GO ARMED --- BROWN, KELLY MICHELLE  300 W MIDVALE AVE APT 37 ... (click for more)

Man Injured In Drive-By Shooting On Judson Lane

A man was injured Monday night in a drive-by shooting on Judson Lane. At approximately 6:36 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to the report of shots fired near the 2500 block of Judson Lane. During that investigation a person suffering from a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the right forearm arrived at a local hospital. ·          ... (click for more)

Why Is The City Diverting Federal Transportation Funds From Real Need?

The city of Chattanooga and CBL, owner of Hamilton Place Mall, would have the mass of taxpayers believe that improving mall access from the interstate is not impacting us financially.   Namely, CBL has committed to fund the city’s match of $8 million, so they will receive $32 million in Federal Transportation Funds that are allocated annually to local jurisdictions through ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Hero Is Coming Home

In late September, a very special funeral will be held in Bearden, Tenn., when 1 st Lt. Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman Jr., will finally come home to lie in peace with his family. Sandy’s been dead for 72 years now, ever since he was killed in combat on the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands on Nov. 22, 1943. He and a number of other Marine heroes were buried back then in a shallow ... (click for more)

NPSL Championship To Be Played In Chattanooga

It's Chattanooga FC taking on the New York Cosmos B for the National Premier Soccer League’s national championship and the Scenic City's Finley Stadium is the site Saturday, August 8 at 7:30 p.m. Thanks to a 9,000 plus crowd at Chattanooga's 3-0 semifinal win against the Indiana Fire, the Tennessee team broke the league’s previous record of 8,878, which was ... (click for more)

Jones Press Conference Kicks Off Vols' Preseason

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Coach Butch Jones held his preseason football press conference on Monday at Neyland Stadium. Jones heads into his third season with visible enthusiasm after the Vols finished off the 2014 season with an impressive win over Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl, following that up with another nationally ranked recruiting class. "In terms of our football team, we ... (click for more)