Dallas police and fire pension board back Texas legislature fix for ailing fund

Pension Members Support Plan To Fix Funding

DALLAS -- The Dallas Police and Fire Pension Board on Monday voted unanimously to get behind a plan from an East Texas lawmaker to help shore up the troubled pension, despite the plan not being complete yet.

City council member and pension board trustee Philip Kingston called the proposal the "best of three bad options."

The board previously rejected two proposals from the city of Dallas and mayor Mike Rawlings that called for a reduction in future benefits to retirees who already accrued large interest rate returns on "DROP", deferred retirement option plan accounts.

State representative Dan Flynn (R-Van) says he plans to file a bill in the next few weeks for the legislature to take up details of his plan.

Right now some of those details include raising the retirement age for fire and police from 51 to 58, but also calls for the city of Dallas to contribute approximately $22 million more to the pension fund to make it fully funded over the next 40 years.

"It's a starting point," Dallas firefighter Jeff Pattreson said.

Patterson has eight years with Dallas Fire & Rescue, so has not benefited from the retirement pension yet, but as board members heard Monday, he has already sacrificed a significant amount.

Patterson was severely injured in a 2014 house fire near Fair Park.  He suffered burns over 35 to 40 percent of his body and a fungal infection threatened his life.  He was in a coma for six weeks and went through months of rehabilitation before he could go home.

On Monday, Patterson said an unattributed comment from a city mediator that fire and police needed to give their "pound of flesh" to the pension fix went too far.

"Those are they type of comments that affect the morale of this police and fire department," Patterson said.

Patterson says those comments, and the feelings of anger they produced, have largely been directed at Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings.

"I don't blame them for hating me," Rawlings said Monday.  "This is a three legged stool between taxpayers, current police and fire and retirees and everyone has to be represented."

Rawlings maintains that current proposals inordinately affects taxpayers and current fire and police while retirees do not share enough of the burden.

"I like win-win propositions," Rawlings said.  "This is not one of those.  This is a lose lose lose proposition and the key is how do you it all together and lose appropriately."

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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