Pension plan passes first of three votes - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Pension plan passes first of three votes

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

It's a topic that has sparked a contentious debate in recent weeks, but Tuesday night it passed with little resistance.  And we're learning it's just the beginning of what Mayor Berke intends to tackle.

Chris Willmore, President of Fire and Police Pension Board, "It was surprising there was no opposition that came to voice their opinions on the proposed changes by the pension board."

But the measure is not opposition free.   Retired police officer, Johnny Frazier, says he and three others missed the public hearing assuming it would last much longer.  He wants to keep the cost of living increase he was promised in 1999.

"I've been getting it now for 14 years and they come down and tell me all of the sudden sorry bud we're taking it away from yah."

Members of the Pension Board Task Force, appointed by Mayor Berke, say with the pension fund only funded by about 50 percent changes had to be made. 

 Kurt Faires, "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that that's unsustainable and so people who would be starting in the police or fire department now.  25 years later there wouldn't be any benefits for them."

Now as the City Council pushes the legislation through Mayor Berke is taking aim at pay discrepancies.   And with the pension plan saving the city more than 200-million dollars there is room to negotiate.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.,"making those kinds of alterations is going to cost funds from our general fund. We have to have available dollars to do that and we want to make sure we take care of our public safety employees by having a proper pay system."

He says a management study is already in the works.

Monday night's vote is the first of three needed to put the pension plan to work.  It will likely be July first when it takes effect.  Those in opposition say if it does pass all three times, they will attempt to take the issue to court.

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