Fort Worth council to vote on proposed pension fix

Fort Worth city leaders are set to vote Tuesday on a fix for the troubled city's pension fund.

The fund faces a $1.6 billion shortfall in the not too distant future. If Fort Worth approves the proposal to fix the pension plan, it likely goes to employees for a vote in January.

Right now, police and fire say it’s not guaranteed they will sign off on the fixes.

“I know they put their lives on the line everyday that’s why we’re addressing this pension so when they want to retire and our current retirees will have a pension,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.

The Fort Worth council’s plan increases contributions from the city and from employees, but it also reduces the cost of living adjustment.

“We don’t believe it passes a vote, it still doesn’t protect the earned benefit,” said Manny Ramirez, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association.

The city would kick in around $21 million per year. Employees would average about two and a half percent more in contributions. The mayor says that wouldn’t increase taxes or cut current services.

“We’re not going to expand services, having to do this, but we believe our new growth and then some efficiencies and some savings in some departments -- we’re looking at making that up,” Price said.

As the cost of living goes up, many pension retirees count on increased adjustments to make ends meet. The plan to reduce that adjustment is a deal breaker for police and fire.

“It’s cutting the COLA by about 20 to 30 percent,” Ramirez said.

Price said priority No. 1 is keeping the fund solvent.

“We cannot bankrupt this fund,” Price said. “The estimate is it could truly be bankrupt by 2035 to 2040 and that’s not acceptable to me at all.”