By Jake Chapman
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/ The Loop-Chattanooga) The City Council ok the new pension reform plan for the fire and police department proposed by Mayor Andy Berke in the first reading.
“As many of you know, we’ve been sued by a number of employees with regards to problems that we have in our police department with pay issues,” Berke told the council. “But we are able to look at retirees in the eye and tell them they are going to get the benefits that they expect.”
The proposed pension plan will end up saving the taxpayers of Chattanooga over $227 million over the next 26 years. Berke’s pension plan will be able to secure retirement from their pension holders such as employees of the Chattanooga Fire and Police Department.
Berke mentioned that this new pension plan has brought together many new stockholders and groups. Both of which have united in order to get this plan under way and benefit the firefighters and police officers of Chattanooga.
Such a proposal is favored by the majority of the Chattanooga City Council, receiving a unanimous vote at the recent City Council meeting. The new pension plan will have to go through more readings and votes in order for it to be placed in effect.
Majority of the people of Chattanooga are excited about the new pension plan and are happy that the city’s employees will finally receive the benefits that they deserve;but some are still questioning whether or not this plan is going to last long.
“This solution is set to where we don’t have to have this conversation in the future. When I took office, I wasn’t able to tell people you’re going to get the benefits that you expect. By making this change tonight, we are able to tell people ‘Yes. In fact, this will be secure in the long run.’”
Berke believes that in order for the people who work for the Fire and Police Department of Chattanooga and receive the benefits that they were promised, then some changes will have to be made.
The pension plan is set to begin as soon as it is set by the Board and will run until June 30, 2015. Beginning July 1, 2015, and continuing until June 30, 2016, each Member will be assessed a contribution to the Fund in an amount, fixed by majority vote of the Board, not less than ten percent (10%) of the Member’s Base Salary. Eventually, each board member will give 1/10th of their salary to the pension to make the pension more stable.
The pension plan has been approved on the first round of reading, but will not go into effect until after the next few readings. The new pension plan will have to go through more readings and votes in order for it to be placed in effect.