Fort Worth is widely recognized as one of the most livable large cities in America. Why? Because we have hard-working and creative city employees; we've been blessed with a long legacy of strong leaders and we're home to taxpayers who put great value in being fiscally responsible.In keeping with those traditions, the City Council made a bold decision to protect our city employees' pensions, protect taxpayers and protect essential city services.Fort Worth's public employee pension fund has been a huge liability for taxpayers. They have nearly doubled contributions to the pension system since 2007. In fiscal year 2012 alone, $78 million was paid to the pension fund.Even with the additional money, the pension plan has promised more than $740 million in benefits it can't pay for. Without changes, the retirement fund's actuary experts suggest the unfunded liability will grow to nearly $2 billion in the next 30 years. If not kept in check, these liabilities will continue to hamstring our ability to provide services and address major challenges across our growing city.Fort Worth has always met its challenges head-on. I'm proud we take seriously our duty to make tough choices.Instead of kicking the can down the road for future councils, we took a courageous step to reduce the future liability of the pension.We're not taking away benefits already earned by city employees. We're not freezing or abolishing the pension like many organizations across the country. Our vote changes the plan for future earnings, meaning the accrued benefits of a current employee will remain on the old pension plan, while future benefits earned will be on the new plan.With the adopted adjustments, employees' pension earnings starting next year will be based on the high five years of their salary instead of the high three. Also, to prevent pension "spiking," instead of overtime from future service being used in pension calculations, employees could invest their overtime earnings.The City Council's action brings the pension fund in line with what the city can afford by adjusting benefits earned in the future for police and general city employees.Taxpayers have done their part. I believe it's necessary for employees to help address this major challenge by taking a smaller benefit or working a little longer to earn the same benefit they would've accumulated without these changes.I thank my council colleagues for their thoughtful leadership on this difficult issue and look forward to continuing our progress together. Much work remains as the city takes up the pension issue in contract negotiations with the Fire Fighters Association. I know the city will negotiate in good faith, and we expect the Fire Fighters Association to bring equally effective solutions to the table.These decisions aren't going to get easier. Those who don't have the facts on their side may continue to misinform and make personal attacks. But we're not cowering in the face of weak political spin or intimidation. That would only threaten the retirements of countless city employees.What's more, failing to address the pension's financial woes could force cutbacks in basic city services and require a tax increase by future councils. Higher taxes and fewer city services only harms neighborhoods and stifles job growth.The council's decision wasn't made overnight, and the fiscal benefits of this decision won't be realized for some time. But these long overdue changes will protect taxpayers while moving us closer to a sustainable and affordable city pension that gives employees the security they deserve.Sustainability. Affordability. Security. Long-term fiscal accountability. That's what being a livable city is all about.Betsy Price is mayor of Fort Worth.