City's Plan to Save Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund Will Target Those Who Got Rich From the System

If city officials get their way, Dallas police and firefighters who got rich off their beleaguered pension fund wouldn't get much more money, if any, out of the retirement system.Or, as Mayor Mike Rawlings said Saturday, some retirees already "got their benefits early."A City Council briefing posted online late Friday night provided the first glimpse into the city's plan to save the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System from insolvency within the next decade or so. Rawlings and the City Council will discuss the plan Wednesday.While the presentation is short on details, Rawlings said he can be clear about a few aspects. The city won't pay the $1.1 billion bailout that pension officials want. Taxpayers will chip in, but he doesn't want to issue debt to pay for it. Base benefits will be protected. And the city's general philosophy is that those who profited from the overly generous benefits will have to take part in the banquet of consequences."We want to do it in a fair manner," Rawlings said. "We want to make sure that the state doesn't have to bail us out. We want to make sure everyone gets their benefits, and that nobody is treated in an inequitable fashion."Pension Board Chairman Sam Friar said he was happy to work with the city but called the proposal a "non-starter." And although he and Rawlings both say they want to work together, the city's stance will almost certainly lead to a showdown at the state Legislature next year. Pension officials hope active police and firefighters will vote to support a package of benefit cuts that they believe will pass legal muster.Friar said the pension system's attorneys told him it's illegal to penalize members for benefits they've already received and accrued."This is the one issue that we're just not going there," Friar said. "We will not do it. The pension board — we will just not go there. ... You cannot put toothpaste back into the tube."Ultimately, the Legislature is the biggest unknown. The pension system is governed by state law, not city ordinance. The City Council has four of 12 seats on the board but otherwise has no real power over the fund even though taxpayers have been paying more than $110 million into the pension system each year.  Continue reading...

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