Police & Fire Pension Board Rejects Latest City Proposal

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Harrison Pirtle
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Updated: 12/20/2013 6:39 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) -- The 1600 police officers, fire fighters, and retirees in Chattanooga's pension program are expecting some major changes in 2014.
The city set up a Task Force to come up with a workable plan by January 31st, 2014.
But members say whatever it is---it won't look anything like the one now in effect.

CAPT. DAVID BROOKS, CHATTANOOGA FIRE DEPT. "I don't know who authored this, but it had to be the mayor, either the mayor's aide, CFO , tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the Loch Ness Monster ..Somebody at city hall came up with this document..it didn't just fall off the tree."

Captain David Brooks read that latest cost-cutting proposal to the board , and heard a response of "You've got to be kidding!"

Among the suggestions was a retirement age of 58 and an increase in contributions from 9 to 13 percent.
Brooks says many Chattanoogans don't understand the importance of that retirement fund.

CAPT. DAVID BROOKS "From my perspective, and from my colleagues' perspective, these changes aren't going to get better. Things are going to get worse."

Brooks and Firefighter Chris Willmore, who's president of the pension board., worry that man firefighters and police officers will rush to retire before they lose benefits.

CHRIS WILLMORE, PRES. OF THE PENSION BOARD "Well, it's important to know that firefighters and police officers in the city of Chattanooga, do not have social security, this is primarily their only source of retirement income." "We've got to make sure that we have the funding that is like unto social security that provides a dignified retirement benefit."

So far 43 retirements have already been announced. There are usually about 20 a year.
Casual observers may ask, what happened to make the pension fund 150-million dollars short?

CHRIS WILLMORE "Obviously 2008, it hit everybody in their 401K's...their retirement, their savings accounts, whatever...it hit this fund, too."

Chris Willmore says if 2008 had been just an average year, instead of the beginning of a recession, the pension fund would be 90-percent funded today.

The pension board is waiting for the city's next proposal.



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