published Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Firefighters and officers speak out on Chattanooga pension reform

  • photo
    The Fire and Police Pension Board office is at 6009 John Douglass Drive.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Firefighters and police officers got their first chance to publicly sound off on the proposed changes to their pension plan.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke accepted the recommendations from his 18-member task force last Thursday, a plan that will increase employee contributions by as much as 37 percent and cut retirees cost of living adjustments from a guaranteed 3 percent to an average of 1.5 percent.

Several retirees spoke at the Police and Fire Pension Board regular meeting questioning the 13 hour closed door negotiations that took place last week. Several retirees and invested employees both told the board that they shouldn't be the ones to see cuts since they've already been promised their benefits.

"We got robbed," said active Firefighter Richard Meier.

Police Officer Sean O'Brien, president elect of the Fraternal Order of Police, defended the proposal and process to reach a consensus within the task force.

"I have no issue standing up before you telling you that we've been able to voice our concerns to the city for active and retired members," he said.

In July, Berke commissioned the task force to reach a consensus on a recommendation that would lower the city's $150 million unfunded liability to the police and fire pension plan.

See tomorrow's Times Free Press for complete details.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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