DALLAS - The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is once again finding itself at odds with the city of Dallas.
The city has less than two weeks to respond to a lawsuit filed by the pension system, which claims the city owes the pension more than $2 million.
The issue is money owed to first responders who get called away from their jobs to serve in the military. When the service member returns, the pension system says the city hasn't been paying its required employer contribution to the pension system for decades.
“I think it's really clear the city owes this money. The law is not that complicated,” said Kelly Gottschalk, Executive Director, Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.
When Gottschalk took the reins of the pension system in 2015, it was expected to go insolvent in seven years. That would have been next year.
“Everyone knew when it passed we weren't out of the woods, but we had a path to get there. It's risky still, our funding level is 45-48 percent depending on how you calculate it, it's projected to go down for the next 15 years before it goes up,” Gottschalk said.
That's one reason why she believes it's worth fighting for the $2.5 million the pension system believes Dallas owes.
“So any hiccup in the say stock market like we've seen recently could be a problem for the pension system. Hopefully this is a short term blip, but we are watching everything from the number of people who retire to what we are earning on our investments and everything matters,” Gottschalk said.
Gottschalk said the system tried everything possible to reach an agreement with the city before filing the lawsuit in January.
“Our board changed their city council changed, mayor changed. Each time we would try to get it resolved and each time they just won't do it, they just refuse to pay the pension,” Gottschalk said.
The pension has sought multiple legal opinions on the matter.
“They have said they are not aware of any other pension plan where the city doesn't make the contributions,” Gottschalk said.
City officials said they would work on responding to questions from FOX4.
The city’s legal response is due in court on March 19.