Ohio police officers, firefighters need to pay more

When one of the five state retirement systems exceeds the 30-year requirement, Ohio law mandates a corrective plan.
MCT Regional News
Dec 19, 2013

More than 50,000 current and retired police officers and firefighters in Ohio are going to have to pay hundreds of dollars more each year to bring their pension fund into fiscal health.

How the costs shake out likely will be decided on Wednesday by the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund board from among a half-dozen alternatives. But the biggest issue is that the first responders are going to have to make additional sacrifices.

The fund’s executive director, John J. Gallagher, and state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, the Republican from Napoleon who heads the Ohio Retirement Study Council, clashed this fall over Gallagher’s statements that he didn’t want police officers or firefighters to give more than already called for in payment increases and benefit decreases that started taking effect earlier this year.

However, Gallagher said “that perspective has been clarified,” so he is now backing the need for more changes that would enable the pension fund to meet its obligations within a maximum of 30 years, as called for in state law.

“The board will honor its fiduciary responsibility,” he said.

When one of the five state retirement systems exceeds the 30-year requirement, Ohio law mandates a corrective plan.

Currently, it would take the Police & Fire fund 47 years to fulfill its obligations to retirees.

The board already has agreed to lower the percentage of employees’ pay going for retiree health care, which would get the pension system to 38 years — while at the same time lowering the projected funding of health care from 17 years to nine years.

To make the 30-year threshold, the board will consider a mix of reduced benefits — such as further cuts in cost-of-living adjustments for retirees — and higher pension payments by active employees.

Much of the discussion during a board meeting today revolved around a proposal from board member Ed Montgomery, a Columbus police officer. He is pushing a yet-to-be-detailed plan that would ensure that retired and active members pay equally, where “everybody feels the pain, we’re all in this ship together, and we’re all going to be part of the solution.”

Representatives of Buck Consultants were instructed to bring details of such a plan to Wednesday’s meeting. Gallagher noted that the changes would have to be approved by the legislature. He added that any outright reduction to retirement benefits — as opposed to cost-of-living adjustments — might raise constitutional questions, too.

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By Darrel Rowland - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

MiddleRight

No one to blame buy yourselves. You have to pay more while you're working if you want that comfy retirement.

JACKEL

OPERS is already making cuts to save the retirement system for non safety employees . Regular employees lose 66% of their social security if they worked in private sector. Safety employees do not lose it .

Blaze

Jackel - you're mistaken. "Safety forces", who are members of the O.P.&F pension do not get any social security at all. OP&F has been cutting as well.