Proposition 6: Firemen and Policemen Pension Fund
By Emanuel Anthony Martínez
Posted on January 26, 2004
The El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association says Proposition 6 on the February 7 city charter amendments election will open the door to ensure the pensions of El Paso's fire fighters and police officers.
"In 30 years there won't be a pension," Dean Kinder, 1st Vice President of the association, warned in an interview on Friday. "[Proposition 6] will allow the city council to get together with the pension board and find a solution to the problem," he said.
Problems began in 1962, when it was discovered that the pension plan was "actuarially unsound" and was losing money. Since then, a solution has been difficult to reach because the pension plan is ruled by the city charter -- which can only be changed through an election.
In contrast, said Kinder, city employees' pension plans are not ruled by the charter and may be adjusted as necessary by a vote of the city council.
Uniformed officers are required to pay into the pension plan when they sign with the City of El Paso. Currently, police officers contribute 12% and fire fighters contribute 15% to the plan. Non-uniformed city employees contribute 6%. Kinder explained that the contribution rates for police and fire fighters in El Paso are among the highest in Texas.
As a result of the high contribution rate and an impending pension crisis, Kinder said recruitment and retention of police officers is also a challenge in El Paso. He asked, "Can you imagine anyone wanting to work on a department that won't have a pension plan in 30 years?"
Consequently, police officers sometimes train in El Paso, at local expense, and then are recruited to other cities. According to the association, the police department is currently 250 officers short.
[However, El Paso is currently the #2 safest city in the nation.]
"It's a big problem. It's getting to critical mass," added Chris McGill, president of the association. And Proposition 6 is "step one" to finding a solution.
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Sample Ballot Proposition 6
Shall Section 6.13-11 D of the City Charter be amended to provide that the City shall have the authority to contract with the Firemen and Policemen Pension Fund to make an additional, one-time contribution solely for an under-funded liability, subject to such terms and conditions as the City may require?
FOR ( )
AGAINST ( )
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For more information:
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