Dallas pension board considers new ideas to rescue police-fire fund

The fund that 9,000 current and retired Dallas police officers, fire fighters and their families depend on could be broke as soon as March.

Retired police and firefighters believe the city has no right to take away interest that they've already earned on their money over the years. But the city has made clear it can't double property taxes to make up for the $800 million funding gap.

At issue is the portion of the retirement money in what is known as DROP. That is the money they accumulated after they reached retirement age but continued to work.

Since allowing them to withdraw their money in a lump sum would bankrupt the whole system, the pension fund suggested annuitization during a Thursday meeting. That process would calculate their life expectancy and distribute their money accordingly. 

But retirees did not like that idea.

"Why can't everyone get together and instead of building a damn bridge, fix our pension,” said Julian Bernal, retired deputy chief.

Another retiree said they were being treated like children.

“We left our money there with confidence it would be taken care of. That turned on us. Now you're trying to issue it to us like we're kids at a candy store. That's not going to work,” said Dale Erves.

Another new option revealed Thursday was a half-cent sales tax increase.

The city has already proposed a tax increase that would amount to $115 for the owner of a $240,000 home. But that proposal would include taking away interest already earned from retires, a controversial provision known as a ‘clawback.’

The four pension board trustees who represent the city's interests on the board filed a lawsuit yesterday to stop the fund from selling its assets at a deep discount.

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