Budget Committee Covets Firefighters’ Pension Money
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ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–A committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approves a plan to save the jobs of 30 police officers and 26 firefighters — if a separate plan calling for major cuts in the firefighters’ pension can be passed.
Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Lyda Krewson says the firefighter’s pension costs are the problem.
“That’s really the crux of this issue,” Krewson said, “Can and will the board of aldermen vote to change the firefighter’s pension plan, to withdraw from the state plan and establish a new firefighter’s pension plan?”
Ways and Means member Alderman Antonio French disagrees.
“I think many people on this committee, a majority obviously, bought into the mayor’s line that the whole city’s woes and all our troubles are placed solely on the firefighters’ backs,” French said, “and it’s just not true, and it’s a way to skirt our responsibility .”
The firefighter’s union has threatened to sue if the city tries to change its pension system. Retired firefighter Bruce Williams, a trustee on the firefighter’s pension board, says money needed to save the 26 firefighter positions is “on the table” in a pension reform board bill drafted by Alderman Joe Vaccaro.
“There is a way right in front of us,” Williams said, “and the mayor’s office has lobbied against it saying it’s not enough. Well, you know, if I’m walking down the street and I need five dollars, but there’s a dollar bill on the sidewalk, I’m going to bend over and pick it up.”