Dallas Pension Fund Board votes to resume DROP checks

Retired Dallas police and firefighters who had their monthly retirement checks frozen will once again get their money.

But a lot of other retired first responders are still frustrated that they are still being cut off from their accounts.

Retired first responders told the pension fund on Thursday that they feel hoodwinked by the pension board after the fund urged them to leave their money in only to later vote to cut off their access to their own money.

Dale Erves spent more than three decades putting his life on the line for Dallas. But now, he says he feels betrayed.Erves spent more than three decades putting his life on the line for Dallas. But now, he says he feels betrayed.

“We did things that were so damaging and violent that no one else would so you all could feel safe,” the retired offer said. “Now, look at us. We are here begging for our own money."

Earlier this month with a run on the bank getting so bad it threatened monthly pension checks, Mayor Mike Rawlings sued the pension fund to put a freeze on the withdrawals from what is known as DROP, an account created to retain experienced police and firefighters. It allowed them to retire on paper and put their pension checks into a very high interest savings account.

In response to backlash from retirees, the pension board says it felt forced to freeze withdrawals because of the mayor's lawsuit.

“A couple of months ago, you put out a letter saying to retirees don't make a rash decision,” Gilbert Travis, a retired police officer told the board. “I trusted you. I left my money in there. Then you come and slap me in the face, kick me in the teeth by shutting my money completely down. I can't pay my bills."

The pension board voted to "unfreeze" the monthly checks for members who were already receiving them in November. But that does not help retirees like Erves, who is still cut off from his DROP account.

“I know the mayor is doing fine. I know his Christmas was fine. I'm sure he had a lovely meal,” Erves said. “But we didn't have a poor Christmas, we had a ‘po’ Christmas. You understand?”

The night before the meeting, Rawlings worked to repair his relationship with Police and Fire with a video posted on YouTube.

“I don't blame anyone who took advantage of the DROP incentive. Those who did so were not greedy, irresponsible. You were not reckless,” he said. “You were simply taking advantage of an opportunity that frankly, never should have been offered to you."

But the video did not go over well with retirees. To save the fund, the mayor proposed what is known as a "claw back.” It would get back the interest it already paid to retirees by cutting their pension checks. The move would save $750 million.

Earlier this month, police and fire fighters rejected the pension fund's plan. The fund director said they are going to be working off of the city's proposed plan. And to get rid of that controversial interest claw back provision, they will need to find $750 million some other way.

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