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Council receives warning from Police, Fire employees

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A public hearing about benefits for some Springfield Police and Fire employees will be held during tonight’s City Council meeting, but associations representing the two departments want to make sure council members know where they stand before the meeting begins.

As outlined in the June 14 issue of Springfield Business Journal, the Additional Funding Contribution to the Police and Fire Pension faces a shortfall of $9 million. At a June 8 luncheon, City Manager Greg Burris outlined six scenarios – including the Police and Fire-supported Option A – that would address the shortfall.

Option A, which Burris presented to Council on Jan. 21, acknowledges that when the city closed the Tier I benefit plan in 2006, it held some responsibility for the AFC shortfall. To contribute to the shortfall, the city would make a one-time payment of $4.75 million into the AFC. According to Burris' June 8 report to council members, however, the closing of the Tier I plan may have only contributed $2.1 million towards the shortfall: other factors, including the fund's lower than assumed rate of return and higher than expected retirement pay-outs, also contributed to the shortfall.

On June 8, council members signaled they would assume the city holds some responsibility for the shortfall by eliminating two of Burris’ proposed options, both of which would have denied city responsibility. But Police and Fire employees say only one of the options presented is fair.

According to a joint Police and Fire news release, the Springfield International Fire Fighter Association and Springfield Police Officers Association are prepared to file a lawsuit if council members opt to resolve a shortfall in the Additional Funding Contribution benefit for Tier I employees in a way other than one previously agreed upon between Burris and representatives of IAFF Local 152 and SPOA.

“If the city council fails to … rectify the problems created by closing Tier I, essentially, this would be armed robbery without flourishing a weapon,” SPOA President Mike Evans said in the release.

Tonight’s city council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.
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