Mayor Says Police, Fire Retirement Benefits Preserved
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin appeared together at a press conference this morning to announce that they had restored cuts to retirement health benefits of police and fire employees.
The issue of retirement health care cuts to public safety workers was bubbling for several months but picked up major steam after the D.C. Council approved the FY 2010 budget, which included eligibility changes in retirement health plans for all city employees. The Office of the Chief Financial Officer, in trying to close the city's budget gap, proposed a new formula for retirement health benefits for all city employees. It would require city employees to have more years of service under their belts before the government would pay its full 75 percent toward health insurance.
Almost immediately the police union, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1 said that this represented a serious benefits cut to police officers, and was harmful given the kind of intense physical work that officers do. Standing outside of police headquarters today, Fenty said that it was an error that police and fire employees got lumped in with the rest of the government employees affected by the change. Rubin and Lanier agreed. No one said that emergency workers were more important than other civil servants, but "over the years, the work that we do, it takes a toll on the bodies of our officers," Lanier said.
Fenty said the city would put $3 million toward police and fire retirement health benefits to cover the emergency workers, a new policy that would not go into at least 2010, when the crop of officers with 25 years of service will encounter the new rules.
Union chairman Kristopher Baumann attended the press conference, silently standing in the rear until the officials left the podium and the TV cameras turned off. Baumann said that the new policy announced by Fenty was meaningless because the changes in the retirement system were passed into law by the D.C. Council, and only the legislature could change it.
"Just like they put the extra money in, they'll be able to take the funding out," Baumann said. "The law says that you don't have to cover it."
October 6, 2009; 3:22 PM ET
Categories: City Finances , Crime and Public Safety , D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty , Theola Labbé-DeBose
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