Fort Worth City Council approves major changes in employee pension

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

Topics: Fort Worth

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The City Council voted Tuesday to approve major changes in the city’s employee pension plan for future service, and the president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association said the organization intends to file suit.

Sgt. Steve Hall said the association views the changes as unconstitutional under the Texas constitution, which bars reductions in vested benefits.

“We do intend to file a lawsuit,” Hall said after council’s vote.

The city fired the first legal shot Tuesday, filing suit in state district court in Fort Worth, asking for a declaratory judgment that the benefit reductions comply with the Texas constitution.

The suit also says a recent police association vote, in which officers voted overwhelmingly in favor of increasing their pension contributions in exchange for keeping the benefits formula, is invalid under state law, because it did not also include the city’s general employees and firefighters.

Council members voted 8-0-1, with council member Kelly Allen Gray, whose husband is a Fort Worth officer, recusing herself.

Mayor Betsy Price, who had characterized the city manager’s plan as “fair,” said “this is not a vote against police. It’s not a vote against any of our employees.”

The staff proposal was designed to bring the fast-growing $748 million unfunded pension liability under control.

The changes approved by the council reduce the multiplier used in determining retirement benefits, use an average of the highest-paying five years of service instead of the highest three in calculations, and eliminate overtime in calculations.

Scott Nishimura, (817) 390-7808

Twitter: @JScottNishimura

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