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June 3, 2010

Police, fire unions sue Baltimore over pensions

Baltimore’s police and fire unions filed a federal lawsuit against the city Thursday afternoon, alleging officials “knowingly underfunded” their pension plan over the past decade, ignoring the advice of financial experts hired by the city, Baltimore Sun colleague Julie Scharper reports.

The lawsuit marks the beginning of what could be a lengthy and expensive legal battle in the emotionally charged debate on altering retirement benefits paid to public safety officers. If drastic changes are not made to the pension system by July 1, the city will be on the hook for $66 million that it cannot pay.

Union heads, stressing the dangerous and physically-grueling nature of their work, say that pension changes proposed by the city constitute a violation of their contract.

“Some in city government are portraying this as a crisis,” said Bob Sledgeski, firefighters’ union president. “This has been long, ongoing neglect on the part of the city to follow their own experts’ advice. That’s not an accident and ten years does not a crisis make.”

The lawsuit charges that from 2003 to 2008, city financial officials disregarded actuaries’ recommendations to lower an assumed rate of return because it would have forced the city to contribute millions more to the plan.

Read the rest of the story at baltimoresun.com.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 5:37 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Crime & Justice, Law and Courts
        

Comments

The best case scenario: Both sides destroy each other.
- What about governing the city? We will form a new government.
- What about enforcing laws? The Sheriff will have to deputize more men.
- What about fire and ambulance? Then we will have volunteer fire companies just like every other jurisdiction in the state.

The greatest fear of the Baltimore Police Department is that people will discover how useless they are. Nothing against the Fire Department but if you sleep with pigs you smell like pigs, and no one wants that smell in their house.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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