ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The sponsor of a pension reform plan that St. Louis firefighters say they won’t sue over is preparing to make an end run around a rival alderman who is holding up the plan in committee.
“It’s my opinion that it’s unfair,” said Alderman Joe Vaccaro, referring to Alderman Craig Schmid’s refusal to advance Vaccaro’s bill out of the Public Employee’s committee which Schmid chairs.
Attempting a rare parliamentary maneuver, Vaccaro is seeking the 15 votes needed from fellow aldermen to bypass the committee chair and release his bill onto the floor of the full board for debate.
“Why not let everybody make that decision?” Vaccaro said. Holding up Vaccaro’s bill, Schmid is pushing a rival pension reform plan drafted by Mayor Slay’s office.
“I will make a decision (on when to release Vaccaro’s bill) after my bill is passed out of committee,” Schmid said.
When asked why he won’t let Vaccaro’s bill out at the same time as Schmid’s bill gets out of the Public Safety Committee, Schmid dug in.
“I am giving an advantage to the bill that will save taxpayers money,” Schmid said.
Aldermanic President Lewis Reed and Comptroller Darlene Green both say Vaccaro’s bill would at least achieve enough pension savings for now ($1.3 million) to avoid cutting 26 firefighters. The firefighter’s union has given its blessing to Vaccaro’s bill, and threatened to sue if Schmid’s bill passes.
Schmid’s bill would achieve deeper cuts and more transformational changes to the firefighter’s pension plan. It would end state control and let the city run the firefighter’s pension system. Mayor Slay has warned that without such changes, the current system is unsustainable and will only lead to more cuts in city services.
The board of aldermen has until June 30 to pass some form of pension reform for firefighters before the new fiscal year starts July 1.