In Baltimore, more pension tension
Baltimore Sun city hall reporter Julie Scharper writes:
Nearly forgotten in the hoopla over the failure of the bottle tax at last week's city council meeting was an issue with potentially larger reverberations: the fire and police pension system. A bill that would radically alter the pension plan and save the city $65 million escaped a final vote last week but is scheduled to be considered tonight.
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke plans to offer a series of amendments to the pension bill on behalf of the police and fire unions at tonight’ meeting. The amendments would grant all fire and police retirees an annual cost-of-living increase of 2 percent. Unamended, the current legislation gives retirees over 55 would a 1 percent increase and those over 65 2 percent.
It should be noted here that Councilman Bill Cole recently introduced a bill to reform the elected officials’ pension system that would boost their cost-of-liivng increase from 2.5 percent to 2.8 percent, so a 2% increase for police and fire retirees does not seem out of the question.
It is unclear how many council members will support the amendments, but Clarke hopes that they could help stave off a lawsuit. The Fraternal Order of Police and the firefighters' union filed a lawsuit in federal court a couple weeks ago charging the city with “knowingly underfunding” the pension plan over the past decade.