Dallas police and fire pension system launches pr fight with videos of public safety workers _ dallas city hall _ dallas news

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System launched a political offensive Wednesday as the fight heated up in Austin over the future of the failing retirement fund.

The campaign — complete with the social media hashtag #BackThePension — is a response to a conglomeration of business and civic organizations, calling themselves Taxpayers for a Fair Pension, that is pushing fixes for the pension system that would hit the wallets of public safety workers and retirees.

Pension board Chairman Sam Friar has said he dislikes playing politics but that he has to make a case for his side against the deep-pocketed, well-connected group led by three former Dallas mayors.

“We’ve got to fight fire with fire,” Friar said.


Health management information system hmis “It’s not a battle, but you’ve got to respond in kind.”

Friar on Wednesday introduced a series of videos that show retired and active police officers and firefighters talking about how they feel they’re getting short shrift from City Hall.

“Our police officers and firefighters are sons and daughters, fathers and mothers and neighbors and friends,” Friar said. “They work high-risk and high-stress jobs to keep us safe every day. Health and disease information It’s their story that has been lost in this whole sordid process.”

The city and the pension system are both trying to avert impending insolvency of the pension fund within the next decade.

State Rep. Information about health insurance Dan Flynn, R-Van, filed a bill Wednesday that would significantly reduce benefits and lay the groundwork for what retirees call a clawback of benefits and what the city calls an equity adjustment for overly generous payouts.

City leaders, who want to avoid a tax increase, hope to erase the unsustainably high interest rates paid out over the years through the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, known as DROP. Masshealth information The pension system created DROP in 1993 after then-Police Chief Bill Rathburn publicly lamented the departure of veteran officers seeking another job and a second pension.

DROP allowed police officers and firefighters to retire on paper while continuing to work, and their pension checks accrued interest in a separate account. What is health information The plan made hundreds of police and firefighters millionaires and has been a drain on the pension system.

Mayor Mike Rawlings has argued that those who benefited from DROP should share in the sacrifice to save the system.

Dallas Police and Fire Pension System members watch a series of videos created to help citizens better understand the issues and the livelihoods of those at stake in the funding debate, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Information about health and fitness The five-video series profiles the personal stories of six active and retired Dallas first responders. Types of health information systems (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Lingburge Williams reflects on a friend that recently passed away as he and other Dallas Police and Fire Pension System members watch a series of videos created to help citizens better understand the issues and the livelihoods of those at stake in the funding debate, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Reliable health information The five-video series profiles the personal stories of six active and retired Dallas first responders. Patient health information (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Police and Fire Pension System board chairman Sam Friar speaks during a press conference where a five-video series profiling the personal stories of six active and retired Dallas first responders was unveiled, Wednesday, March 8, 2017 in Dallas. What is health information systems The video series is to help citizens better understand the issues and the livelihoods of those at stake in the funding debate. Health information systems jobs (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

In the videos, police officers and firefighters say that DROP was their reward for taking less pay than smaller cities offered.

“The DROP was a carrot they dangled in front of us at the time,” said Jeff Patterson, a firefighter who suffered severe burns. Information about health “You take a lower salary, you take average health benefits at best, but you’ve got this DROP, you’ve got this carrot out there for your future. Unitedhealth group information For these retirees and for these guys who did their time, and now for them to dangle that and pull that back — that doesn’t seem right to me.”

Sherrie Wilson, the first female Dallas firefighter, asked for her DROP money in December, but the board closed off withdrawals. Health information systems definition The board will consider paying some lump sums at a meeting Thursday, but the current legislation calls for paying out DROP funds as annuities over projected lifespans.

Wilson said that if leaving her money in DROP “helps the team,” then she will be fine with it. Health related information But a clawback, which is legally questionable, is unacceptable, she said.

“I don’t like the idea of the city going into my bank account and taking money,” she said.

Wilson and other retirees have been far from voiceless in Austin. Health education information Police and fire groups and pension leaders, like city officials, have been lobbying in the capital for months.

But they want reinforcements. Examples of health information systems The pension board’s website now features the videos, links to op-eds written by police officers and firefighters and contact information for political representatives in Dallas and Austin.

The police and firefighters, who don’t delve into much detail about their actual finances, want to send the message that the recent higher-than-usual attrition rates in the police and fire department will continue unless the city’s taxpayers cough up more money to save the system.

Friar said he’ll continue to negotiate with all sides for a better solution for his members, but the system “just wanted to tell our story, the perspective of everyday police and firefighters.”

“People need to know what their police officers and firefighters sacrifice every day, both financially and physically,” he said.

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