After losing millions of dollars in the police and firefighters retirement fund from the 2008 stock market collapse, former Mayor Ron Littlefield created a task force to address how to put the pension plan on more secure footing.

The group studied and debated the problem for six months, but ultimately agreed only to add a couple of outside members to the Chattanooga Police and Fire Pension Board, revamp the terms of a deferred retirement option for some members and smooth out the city's payments into the underfunded plan over an entire decade.

The study group left it to the next administration to figure out how to fund the plan fully.

"It's a very tough problem," said Dan Johnson, a CPA who as Littlefield's chief of staff was tasked with seeking a way to shore up the plan. "It's something that has to be dealt with, but I'm afraid until there is a crisis it's going to be difficult to do very much."

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