JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) – Mayor Slay’s Operations Director went before the House Retirement Committee Monday, urging state lawmakers to keep their hands off the city’s firefighter pension fund.
A bill currently in the House Retirement Committee, if passed, would cut St. Louis firefighter pensions to just 25-percent for new employees.
Sam Dotson, says a quick fix from the state government won’t get rid of the problem and the city is wasting millions of dollars each year on maintaining the pension system.
“For those increases we have not seen any increase in public safety for the city of St. Louis. That isn’t applied to new trucks, new capital, that’s just to keep the pension system afloat. We need comprehensive reform, and we cannot afford half-measures.”
Dotson said the city should have the power to create a detailed solution to the budget shortfall separate from the state.
“If they can make a solution here and get less-than-adequate change, faux change if you will, there is no incentive for them to continue at the table with conversation and dialogue.”
Retired firefighter, Bruce Williams with the Firemen’s Retirement System of St. Louis says the current pension system is antiquated and it’s time for the state to fix it.
“In my opinion the driving force in the contribution rates to the city to the system is disabilities. Our disability plan has not changed since the inception of the plan in 1960.”
Challenges also came from several St Louis house members. Representative Genise Montecillo called it an attack on city firefighters and Representative Mike Colona criticized the Mayor’s efforts to remove legislative authority over the pensions.
A representative for Lewis Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, says he supports the state legislation. The measure would also require firefighters to work 20 years before they can get retirement benefits. Reed has held his own talks with firefighters and is expected to make a run for mayor.
The House Retirement Committee could vote on the bill later this week or early next week.