91 Arizona Cities Call For The Closure Of The PSPRS Public Safety Pension

http://kjzz.org/content/141281/arizona-cities-call-overhaul-pension-system

Arizona’s public safety pension system has been racked by crises

May 18, 2015  KJZZ

Public Safety Pension Reform Task Force

Public Safety Pension Reform Task Force

Story Highlights

  • Arizona’s cities and towns are calling for a major overhaul of public safety pension
  • The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is putting forward a handful of suggestions, including to end the current system
  • Bryan Jeffries, head of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona union, fights the changes

Arizona’s cities and towns are calling for a major overhaul of how the state funds its pension system for firefighters and policemen, but labor groups are questioning some aspects of the proposal.

Arizona’s public safety pension system has been racked by economic crises, like the tech bubble and the Great Recession. Costs have grown enormously in recent years with many cities now carrying millions in unfunded liabilities.

To get back on track, the League of Arizona Cities and Towns is putting forward a handful of suggestions: end the current system and start a new one for future employees; pool all the assets and liabilities together, rather than divide them among each employer;  “and that the cost sharing between the employers and employee is on an equal 50/50 basis” said Ken Strobeck, executive director of the league.

“That’s not the way the system is structured today,” said Strobeck. “Today, the employee contribution is capped.”

This means most increases are passed onto the employer.

But Bryan Jeffries, head of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, sees it differently.

“They never talked about sharing equally when the firefighters and paramedics were paying our full share and they were paying zero,” he said. “Now that their amount has gone up, they want equal sharing.”

Jeffries said his union has drafted legislation that would keep his members contributing about 11 percent and eventually bring down employer contributions. Some cities are currently paying more than 50 percent. The two groups do agree on some reforms, though, including the need to curtail cost of living increases and build up reserves.

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