A solution to the city’s troubled pension system will have to wait a little longer.
With Fort Worth Police Officer Garrett Hull, a 17-year veteran, hospitalized following the early Friday morning shooting, Mayor Betsy Price informed employees in an email that the city would temporarily put the pension debate on hold.
“I am writing today with a heavy heart,” Price said. “As many of you know, Fort Worth Officer Garrett Hull was shot while on duty early this morning. He is currently in the intensive care unit in critical condition. He is a hero, and he is fighting like one.”
The city must find a fix for the troubled pension system, which faces a $1.6 billion shortfall, but Price said it wasn’t the appropriate time to debate the issue.
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“As you also know, at Tuesday’s city council meeting, the City Council was scheduled to vote on the FY2019 Budget and consider a proposed solution regarding the sustainability of the pension fund,” Price said.
“However, our attention is now rightly focused on Officer Hull and his family,” Price said. “For that reason, we are postponing further pension discussions and will reschedule the vote at the appropriate time. We will proceed with a vote on the FY2019 budget. I ask you all to join me in offering your prayers, thoughts, and love for Officer Hull, his family, and his fellow officers at this time. His bravery is an example to us all. “
If nothing is done to fix the Fort Worth Employee’s Retirement Fund, it could run out of money by 2048.
This week, the city and representatives from the Fort Worth Police Officer’s Association and the Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Local 440 had been meeting with the city in an attempt to reach a deal. Last week, the city had upped how much it would contribute but police and firefighters had said it wasn’t enough.
The sticking point has been cost-of-living adjustment. In its last proposal, the city had proposed cutting the COLA from 2 percent to 1 percent.
The city’s proposal would increase the city’s contribution from $92 million to $110.7 million annually. Employees would see their contributions increase from $37 million annually to about $50 million annually with police and firefighters contributing at a higher rate than general employees.
The challenge for striking a deal rests an finding an agreement that all employees will support.
The city has 4,009 general employees with 2,082 hired since 2011. There are 1,710 police officers and 924 firefighters.