ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — The firefighters union is condemning Mayor Slay’s plan to make changes to the firefighter’s pension system – – calling it a “money grab.”
Standing on the steps of the city hall rotunda, more than a hundred fire fighters turned out for a rally against the proposed changes, as Mayor Slay’s plan was scheduled to be introduced for consideration at the board of aldermen.
“I think anyone would agree that a politician should not be in control of anyone’s retirement fund without proper checks and balances,” said Firefighter’s Local 73 President Chris Molitor.
The Mayor’s office insists checks and balances will be maintained in the plan to reduce soaring firefighter pension costs, now pegged at $24 million a year and projected to rise to $31 million.
At issue in the dispute is a provision in the bill that the union believes would prevent the firefighter pension board of trustees from filing lawsuits in the future, if the mayor’s office decides to make drastic cuts or even terminate the plan.
The provision in the bill reads: “The board of trustees shall have no duty or authority to challenge the city with respect to the establishment, design, amendment or termination of the plan.”
Firefighter’s pension trustee Bruce Williams, a retired city firefighter, says that’s clear to him what the mayor wants.
“I do not believe the board of trustees under the proposed plan will be allowed to force through litigation the city to fully fund the plan as it’s outlined,” Williams said.
Mayor Slay was no where in site as the debate raged between firefighters and Slay’s budget and operations director in the rotunda.
“What I think you have to remember,” said Mayor Slay’s operations director Sam Dotson, “is there is no desire, there is no interest. It’s a complete misrepresentation. We want to protect the firefighters’ retirment system.”
Slay’s 55 page plan was introduced by alderman Craig Schmid, chairman of the public employees committee. Most board members had not read the bill to say whether they will support it. To pass, the bill would need 15 votes for a majority of the 28 member board.
But first, it will go to committee. It has yet to be assigned to a committee for debate. The board has until March 16 to vote on the plan before adjourning for spring break.
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