Galveston, TX – April 11, 2019 – Galveston city leaders on Thursday testified in a Texas House committee hearing in favor of legislation to address governance, unfunded liabilities and other issues in the Galveston police pension plan and ensure the plan’s stability for the benefit of police officers and taxpayers.
The legislation is the result of two years of negotiations between City management and the Galveston Police Pension Board. Throughout, the City has remained committed to reaching an agreement to benefit those police officers who have already retired, those who are working for the Galveston Police Department and those who are yet to be hired. We are proud of this solution to address the issues facing the plan.
On Thursday, the Texas House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services committee heard testimony on House Bill 2763, a bill addressing the Galveston police pension plan sponsored by Rep. Dan Flynn and co-sponsor local Rep. Mayes Middleton. During the testimony, Texas House lawmakers on the committee praised the legislation for meeting both the long-term and short-term stability of the proposed plan.
“We have successfully negotiated the fire and civilian pensions and this legislation will help us put the bow on the box and be done with the police pension plan,” Mayor Jim Yarbrough said during the committee meeting. “This legislation deals with all the issues that we have brought up internally. The board make up is going to be better. Having the expertise requirements, the education requirements and skill sets to make decisions to deal with this type of money is going to be absolutely paramount.”
The issues of funding are also addressed in the legislation. The City will increase its contribution to 18 percent of total payroll. This is a 50 percent increase over original funding levels outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. Police officers will continue contributions at the current level of 12 percent.
Mayor Yarbrough was joined at the Texas Capitol by Councilman Craig Brown, City Manager Brian Maxwell, Deputy City Manager Dan Buckley and City Attorney Don Glywasky.
"The City is committed to all of its employees and maintaining pension plans that are financially sustainable and provide the benefit our employees have worked toward," City Manager Brian Maxwell said. “We’re pleased to have reached this agreement and look forward to the legislation passing and implementing these changes.”
Geoff Gainer of the Galveston Police Department also testified in favor of the bill.
“We all got on the same page and we realized we were closer in mindset than we really thought we were,” Gainer told the committee.
Galveston city leaders worked with Rep. Dan Flynn, who as a lawmaker has assisted other cities to usher in pension reforms to fix pension plans.
The City administration thanks Reps. Flynn and Middleton, Sen. Larry Taylor, and members of the Galveston Police Pension Board for working collaboratively to reach an agreement that is beneficial to the police officers and Galveston taxpayers. The City is proud to support this bill and we look forward to its passage in the Texas House and Senate, and receiving approval from Governor Abbott.
A copy of the legislation is available at www.capitol.texas.gov.