Since its inception, the Police Pension fund has been exclusively managed by a Board comprised of a majority of police officers. Unfortunately, this potential conflict was written into the law which established the Police Pension.
After some thirty years of their direct oversight, the police now assert that they have the worst pension plan in the State. It is doubtful the police pension plan is the worst in the State, but what is beyond doubt is that the state of the plan is the product of a Board mostly comprised of plan beneficiaries and is in desperate need of repair.
The City of Galveston shares with the individual GPD officers their disappointment and concern with the management of the Police Pension in Galveston.
The City of Galveston has no management, oversight or control over any facet of the police pension. Nonetheless, the City has made very generous offers to increase funding beyond its negotiated contractual obligations in conjunction with plan changes that would bring it into solvency. The Police Pension Board has thus far rebuffed these offers and has recently announced its desire to add more benefits and reduce the police employee contributions at a time when the plan is faltering.
The City’s Civilian and Fire pensions faced very similar funding issues. The City Civilian Pension Fund and the Firefighters Pension Fund have each overcome its issues by working with City management. Attempts by the City for a similar resolution thus far have been rejected by the Police Pension Board.
The City remains hopeful and its increased funding offers remain on the table.
The City wants every officer to have a pension upon retirement. But the Police Pension Board’s current proposal allows for uncontrolled access to the tax payer’s dollar. This is inconsistent with sound fiscal management of tax dollars. The City recognizes a need for a comprehensive solution that outlives the terms of all those currently involved and is fair to the officers and taxpayers alike.
The City believes two things must happen to ensure proper management of the Police Pension Fund. First, there must be a change in the composition of the Board. The decisions that lead to the current state of the fund could possibly have been avoided had a more balanced Board been in place.
Second, the Police Pension Fund allows a full retirement at age 50. Many of our tax paying residents rely on Social Security as their retirement, and the qualifying age for that benefit continues to rise. A pension plan that allows members a full retirement at age 50 is remarkable but not sustainable. There must be an increase in retirement age to assure the viability of the plan for future generations of officers. None of the other City plans offers such an early retirement age.
A slightly increased retirement age coupled with the increased contributions already offered by the City could solve the police pension issues.
The City of Galveston is steadfast in its commitment to a viable sustainable Police Pension Fund. The City will continue to focus its efforts on solving the issue to the benefit of the officers and taxpayers alike. Hopefully, the police pension board will do the same.
The city recognizes the tremendous service all of our employees, including our police officers, provide to our citizens. We look forward to working in a positive manner to solve this issue.