ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — Dozens of firefighters jammed the rotunda stairs of City Hall, as Aldermanic Board President Lewis Reed unveiled his plan to slash $7.6 million in annual costs while keeping the firefighter’s pension system under state control.

Mayor Slay’s office had earlier introduced a plan to cut costs by $8.3 million annually and bring the system under city hall control.

The debate has roiled on for weeks, with the mayor’s office saying the system is bloated and too expensive.   Firefighters and Reed have expressed fears that Slay’s plans for cuts would “remove checks and balances” and could lead to unfair cuts in the future if the system were no longer under state control. 

Slay’s office says any changes made without returning control of the pension system from the state to local officials would not go far enough. 

Reed’s announcement Friday morning laid out details of the pension agreement they hammered out late last night.

But the real action took place the moment Reed relinquished the podium. Alderman Stephen Conway, who opposes Reed’s plan, stepped to the podium to talk with the press, but Reed objected. That’s followed by Conway trying to explain his side as angry-looking firefighters crowd in from all sides, interrupting him at times.

Below is raw sound of that incident. You’ll also hear the voice of Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, another opponent of the plan.

img 5152 Heated Words at Firefighters Pension Press Conference

Click on the photo to see more images of the press conference. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

President Reed laid out his plan, which among other things would increase benefits for those killed in the line of duty, spend 2.1 million dollars on disability benefits for current employees, and make no changes at all for retirees.

KMOX © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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