In The News › New Orleans firefighters, city seeking pension fund compromise

Apr 18, 2013

Source: WWL-TV

Filed under: City Government, Government Finance, Orleans Parish, Pensions

New Orleans firefighters, city seeking pension fund compromise

By Paul Murphy, Eyewitness News
April 18, 2013

NEW ORLEANS — Officials from the New Orleans Firefighters’ Union say this week they met with Mayor Mitch Landrieu and some of his top staff to discuss possible common ground in the long simmering feud over the troubled Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund.

The administration says the pension fund now threatens to undermine the city budget and promises made to retirees.

A recent study by the independent Bureau of Governmental Research indicates the fund is in serious financial distress.

“First of all when we looked at it, it was only 40 percent funded. Now according to the city, that’s down to 33 percent,” said BGR Executive Director Janet Howard. “Rule of thumb, you have to be at least 80 percent funded to be considered sound.”
The city is behind a series of bills at the state legislature seeking to overhaul the pension system.

Among the goals: Reducing the number of pension board members to five — including a financial expert from the city; increasing firefighter contributions from the current 6 percent to 10 percent of their salary; and possibly folding the firefighter pension fund into the city’s own retirement system.

“Wholesale changes to any pension fund will be difficult,” said Nick Felton, the firefighters union president. “We as a fire pension board have done over the years extremely well. We just can’t take a snapshot, one-day picture and use that as true to fact.”

Felton says his members are willing to put more into the pot if the money goes to pay down the unfunded liability.

“Right now insurance costs are going up and just the cost of living itself is going up. It is very difficult to express to firefighters that need.”

State Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-Algiers, is sponsoring a series of union-backed bills. One of them would phase in the increases over four years.

“So it’s not a big hit to their take-home pay because every percent you put into contributions is 1 percent less you’re taking home to spend,” said Arnold.

The fire union hopes to reach a compromise with the city before the pension bills are debated by lawmakers.

Apr 18, 2013

Source: WWL-TV

Filed under: City Government, Government Finance, Orleans Parish, Pensions

Fair Use Notice

This site occasionally reprints copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues and to highlight the accomplishments of our affiliates. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is available without profit. For more information go to: US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.