Dallas pension board backtracks on DROP payments

The roller coaster continues for retired Dallas police officers and firefighters.

The pension board backtracked Thursday on an earlier decision that would have divvied up hundreds of millions of dollars in DROP payments among retirees who can't access their retirement accounts.

Before the vote, the director of the fund warned if the funds were released banks could call their loans, putting the fund in more jeopardy than it already is in.

Gilbert Travis is a former detective for the Dallas Police Department. He worked there for 40 years. And under previous rules, he was able to withdraw his money from the pension fund in whatever amount he needed. But with the fund going broke, the board has capped payments at $3,000 a month.

“I've been living off credit, and it's hard,” Travis said. “I'm having a hard time realizing this is going to be it for a while or forever."

The Texas legislature is trying to fix the plan. Lawmakers want payments based on estimated lifespan of 78 years for a man

“I've already had a pacemaker put in,” Travis said. “My dad died at 68. It's like, I don't have 78 years."

While retirees grapple with the cutback in benefits proposed by the legislature, the city of Dallas will also have to come up with additional money. 

Councilmember Scott Griggs wants to take money that currently goes to DART.

“I’m having these numbers run now I believe is going to be closer to $1 billion,” he said. “The pension crisis has turned into a public safety crisis. Do we want another DART station up in Denton? Or do we want police and fire to answer our calls when we call 911."

But fellow Councilmember Jennifer Gates is not yet onboard with that idea.

“I recognize this could impact public safety,” she said. “So we need to figure out how we can fix it immediately and not look at solutions that could be years down the road."

Diverting sales tax from DART to the pension would require approval from the legislature and voters. The mayor has proposed taking away interest retirees have already earned to fill the gap.

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