Dallas pension fund trustees approve new DROP distribution policy

- Pending a judge's approval next week, all Dallas Police and Fire retirees could start receiving money from their retirement savings accounts. But some say the decision is not financially sound for the pension fund.

Saving the Police and Fire Pension Fund is going to cost everyone from Dallas residents to the police and firefighters.

Before Thursday’s vote, every city council member expressed concerns that letting retirees have a portion of the money they've earned is not a fiscally sound decision. But the move still passed.

“I can't pay my bills, can't pay my house payment,” one retired police officer said. “I can pay my house payment if I don't eat."

It was also the complaint from dozens of retired police and firefighters fighting for access to money they've earned. Both the pension board and a judge froze access to their deferred retirement savings accounts after a run on the bank.

Under the new DROP distribution policy, retirees who opt in could get $3,000 a month plus additional money based on their account balances and the pension fund's liquidity.

“We're still going to be limited to the amount of our money that we're able to get out of these accounts, that's the problem,” said Dale Erves, a retired police officer. “You can't determine what we need in our households to make them run.”

Trustee Brian Haas added a provision to divide $6.6 million among all retirees who requested withdrawals before the fund was frozen.

But retirees gasped when they heard Haas say, “We’re just passing it out. I mean our council people have stated we know we're going broke. Let's just start doling it out as fast as possible."

And as for the Dallas council, every member on the board voted against the plan.

“This whole plan is predicated on the sale of ill-liquid assets that began in December of last year and that's very troubling,” Trustee Scott Griggs said. “The liquidity this is depending on isn't there."

The plan will only go into effect if the judge handling the case agrees to lift the freeze. The judge will decide that at a hearing in federal court on Tuesday.

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