Time To Cap Pensions

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In response to the comments made in Ms. Lukachick’s article in Monday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press by Chief Willmore who is also the president of the Fire and Police Pension Fund - I find it laughable to suggest capping our pension at the highest paid fire captain’s rate (about $65,000) would only save the city $13,000 in annual contributions.  

At the last Pension Board meeting on Jan. 16 I asked the board about the possible savings and the answer, like all the others, was “We don’t know.” They could not and would not answer anyone’s questions. To my knowledge there has never been an actuarial study done to see what the Pension or city could save over 30-40 years because the Board does not want to cap it.  

My figures begin with information gained from the City Personnel Department and I merely applied the formula used to calculate our pensions. Exact figures can only be obtained from the Pension Board and they will not release them.  

The money the fund could save per year is staggering in itself. The difference in what the last fire chief retired at and what the most recent highest paid captain retired at is almost $40,000 per year and a difference of over $115,000 in their DROP. Personnel records show that Chief Parker was making $114,686 in 2009. Assuming he made at least that much in his final three years, his pension is a little over $83,000 a year to start. The captain’s highest three year average was about $64,883.41 resulting in a pension of about $44,607.34 per year.

Our DROP is based on our yearly pension thus making Chief Parker’s around $249,441.00 plus interest and the captain’s would have been around $133,822.00 plus interest. If our pensions were capped the fund could have saved over $155,000 in the first year of Chief Parker’s retirement benefit alone and over $40,000 every year for the rest of his life.  At present Chief Flint’s pension would be almost $22,000 more per year than the captain’s and almost $66,000 more on the DROP and he still has a few more years to work. His salary is sure to increase. It already has by 18.4 percent since 2011.  

The paper stated Police Chief Bobby Dodd’s final salary was $126,875.  If that was his three year average that would make his yearly pension about $87,226.56. If he had stayed for a DROP it would have been somewhere around $261,000 plus interest. We can’t blame these individuals for the pensions they draw. They are just playing by the rules, but the yearly savings on these three individuals alone is enough to show our pensions should be capped.   

The fire department has an administration full of chiefs making over $65,000 a year and several making over $90,000. Because some police lieutenants make as much or more than a battalion chief in the fire department I can’t begin to tell you how many in the police department make over $65,000. Since the changes made to the Pension Fund in 1999, the Fund could have saved upward of around $1 million in DROP money alone if it had been capped at that time at a captain’s rate. Just imagine what we could save in 30-40 years.   Cap it and save our COLA.

Chip O'Dell
Captain, Chattanooga Fire Department

1971 Chattanooga Riots - And Response

So Brenda Washington "remembers," the riots in the spring of '71 and National Guard troops patrolling her neighborhood. Well Brenda, I was one of those troops patrolling your neighborhood and as the late Paul Harvey would say, "here is the rest of the story." Wilson Pickett (a black entertainer) was scheduled to perform at the Memorial Auditorium on a  Friday  night. ... (click for more)

Freedom To Discriminate

I don't need a dictionary to know Rox Exum is a white male with privilege. His chosen words and tone are inexcusable, primarily because he can never know what it feels like to be a victim of discrimination. We live in a world that is right-hand dominant, yet we don't say that lefty's chose to be that way because their selfishness drives their desire to be different. You could try ... (click for more)

Truck Bursts Into Flames On I-75 Near Tunnel Hill; Traffic At Standstill For Hours

A truck burst into flames after wrecking with another vehicle on I-75 near Tunnel Hill on Saturday afternoon. There were injuries reported in the fiery accident in the southbound lanes. Traffic was at a standstill for several hours. Long lines of vehicles detoured onto Highway 41 into Ringgold. The wreck was just inside Catoosa County, Ga. (click for more)

Representative Jimmy Duncan Endorses Donald Trump For President

Representative John J. Duncan, Jr., one of the most senior Republicans in the House and the only Republican remaining in Congress who voted against the Iraq War today endorsed Donald Trump for president. Rep. Duncan said, “With only four percent of the world’s population, we buy 25 percent of the world’s goods. Every country wants into our markets. We have tremendous leverage ... (click for more)

Shrum, Gautier Win Communities In Schools 5K

Ryan Shrum and Jan Gautier may still be recovering from the Boston Marathon 12 days ago, but that didn’t keep them from winning overall titles in the 18 th Annual Communities In Schools 5K in Ringgold Saturday morning. The race, a circular 3.1-mile route that was somewhat flat, but included a few challenging climbs, was sponsored by First Volunteer Bank with proceeds benefitting ... (click for more)

Mother Nature The Champion Of Red Bank Softball

They dodged as many bullets as possible, but rain was predicted for Saturday and it finally landed on the Red Bank Lionette softball complex. Meigs County had already advanced to the championship game with a 7-0 win over Central at the White Oak Field while Sale Creek was holding on to a slim 4-3 lead over Red Bank when play was suspended by lighting, thunder and heavy rain in ... (click for more)