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Aldermen Hot and Cold on Mayor Slay’s Pension Plan for Firefighters

Kevin Killeen
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ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Mayor Slay’s plan to cut the firefighter’s pension is getting some support in the board of aldermen — even among some who once supported the pension benefits now in question.

“We can’t continue going down the same road that we’ve been going,” said Alderwoman Phyllis Young, “because it gets us too far from our goal, which is to balance our budget.”

Young says she’s willing to consider the mayor’s plan to cut firefighter pension costs — projected to rise to $31 million annually — admitting that in better times she once supported benefits the mayor now wants to cut.

“Having voted that way previously, we were always given information that showed that there would be no cost to the system,” Young said, “And I think a lot of that was based on assumptions about the stock market returning eight-percent or better.”

But Slay’s plan is no slam dunk with the aldermen.

Others, such as Alderman Jeffery Boyd, want to know how and why pension talks broke down between the firefighter’s union and the mayor’s office.

“Were they good faith negotiations? How long did they go on? How many meetings did they actually have?” Boyd said, “I want to hear from the fire fighters, their perspective, if there’s any room for compromise on their end.”

Other alderman are warning that Slay’s far reaching cuts could embroil the city in a long court fight.

“Why not pick the low-hanging fruit? Why go to court and battle it for two years?” said Alderman Joe Vaccaro. Vaccaro has introduced a separate plan that he says would achieve over a million dollars a year in savings. That plan has been rejected by the mayor’s office as not going far enough.

Slay’s pension cut plan has not yet been officially assigned to an aldermanic committee. But the mayor’s team made a presentation on the plan before the aldermanic public employee’s committee  Monday.

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