Frustration continues for firefighters and police officers worried about their pensions. Several of them protested at Tuesday's Chattanooga City Council meeting.
Those concerns surfaced again at the meeting of the Pension Fund Board, where a standing-room-only crowd continued to voice opposition to proposed cuts to the fund.
Their voices were heard, but they don't know if it did any good.
In recent weeks, tension has been growing as little bits of the changes to the plan are being made public. That tension among current and former police officers and firefighters, is translating into, downright frustration.
Retired and active Chattanooga police officers and firefighters, who have been concerned about pension cuts, packed the Pension Board meeting this morning, and even though they continued to raise red flags..
"We're willing to take some changes," Chattanooga firefighter Tim Zink told the board. "We are willing to take some changes, but don't cut us like this."
Most of them left, just as frustrated as they have been, and vowed to continue protesting. "We're not going to stop doing it," retired Chattanooga police officer Kirk Salter told the group. "If we have to get an injunction to stop (the changes from going through), we'll do it."
Among the changes recommended to recover a 150-million dollar shortfall in the Pension Fund, is cutting the annual cost of living adjustment, or COLA, for retirees from 3 per cent, to 2 per cent. "The COLA changes are not permanent," says Pension Task Force head Travis McDonough. "The task force agreed to make the recommendation that changes to the COLA would be temporary."
But there is a level of distrust among the rank and file that the meeting could not ignore.
"Don't cut their benefits unless we've looked at everyother option available," said taxpayer Bradley Church to the board.
Right now, legal language is being worked out in the outline of pension changes agreed to, by Mayor Andy Berke. Even though we're being told that no one currently receiving a benefit, will see their amount change, most everybody at this meeting wants as little change as possible across the board.
"Live up to your word," Zink says. "Do what you promised us when we were hired, and we're willing to work with you."
We're told that once the language is worked out, the outline goes back to the Pension Task Force and another public hearing.
City council gets it after that, and if it passes on three readings, a date is put down to implement it.
But as both sides indicated, as it stands right now.. they are "many moons away" from an absolute, final agreement.
We'll continue following this story.by Calvin Sneed