Not long after a judge ordered certain Dallas police and fire pension fund payments to stop, there's a chance for some retirees to access that money.
Tuesday’s decision in court marks the latest turn in one of the lawsuits over the failing Dallas pension fund. A judge agreed with five retired police officers, who asked the court to reconsider a total stop on certain payments.
The Dallas Police Association's Frederick Frazier reacted to news that there's been a compromise of sorts in the courtroom over money in the Deferred Retirement Option Program or DROP.
“I'm hoping that the board can do actually something to help out these individuals, these officers,” he said. “That's their money.”
The pension board and a judge took emergency action earlier this month and froze withdrawals after Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings sued to stop panicked pensioners from pulling out money.
“I wish it wouldn't have come like that,” Frazier said. “I wish there would have been a meeting of the minds and some sensibility because what happened is the overreaction that brought a whole nother action in the plan of panic. And all these panics have caused this thing to spiral downhill.”
Judge Tonya Parker agreed on Tuesday with five retired Dallas police officers who petitioned the court to reconsider on behalf of retirees. Their lawyers argued the DROP distributions should continue for retirees who were already getting regular installments as part of their monthly benefits.
Attorney Kirk Pittard says while a judge agreed some payments to certain retirees should be allowed, it would still be up to the pension board to ease restrictions. It meets again on December 29
This latest chapter in the legal wrangling over the pension fund still doesn't answer the biggest question of all: What will be done to keep the fund from failing and taking the financial futures of police and firefighters down, too?
“There's going to be serious financial consequences to the retirees, to the city of Dallas and potentially to the state,” Pittard said. “And so there's a lot of moving parts to this right now.”
Some in the pension system leadership have said a taxpayer bailout of $1 billion is necessary.
The Dallas Police Association has talked about urging lawmakers in Austin to tackle the issue during the next session which begins in January.