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Posts Tagged ‘pension fund’

Council votes to sue over bad pension projections

Game on. Houston City Council on Wednesday paved the way for city attorneys to sue an actuarial firm the city claims gave inaccurate pension estimates that spurred costly changes to firefighters’ retirement benefits in 2001. [...] Houston’s contribution rate to the fire pension skyrocketed soon after the changes were approved, despite an actuarial report from […]

Another pension-related lawsuit coming?

Here’s a little blast from the past. The city of Houston may sue a company whose advice it relied upon in making changes to firefighters’ retirement benefits in 2001, saying the firm’s inaccurate predictions left the city on the hook for pensions it cannot afford. Houston’s contribution rate to the firefighters pension skyrocketed soon after […]

Firefighters union rejects contract deal

Oops. The contract rejected Tuesday by 93 percent of the roughly 2,900 firefighters voting would have taken a similar approach, granting a pay raise in exchange for concessions on members’ ability to take leave. With the no vote, as of July 1 members of Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341 enter an “evergreen” period […]

City reaches contract agreement with firefighters

Give a little, get a little. Houston firefighters would give up some of their ability to schedule time off in return for a pay hike under a tentative new labor contract that city officials hope will enable them to rein in overtime costs that threatened to bust the fire department’s budget this year. The City […]

We’ve got some budget challenges coming

Some chickens are coming home to roost. Beginning next summer with fiscal year 2016, Houston will face a projected $142 million gap between expected revenues and expenses in its general fund, which is fed chiefly by property and sales taxes and funds most basic city services. That exceeds the $137 million budget gap Houston had […]

City sues HFRRF again

From the inbox: In the face of growing concern about its ability to meet long-term retiree pension obligations, the City of Houston filed a lawsuit today against the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (HFRRF), one of three pension systems covering City employees. The lawsuit seeks to enable the City to have the same input […]

What’s on the agenda for Mayor Parker in her third term

Now that Mayor Parker has been safely re-elected, with a better-than-expected margin, what does she plan to do from here? A triumphant Parker on Tuesday lauded her “decisive” victory but quickly shifted her focus to the coming two years, listing her third-term priorities as jobs, economic development, rebuilding streets and drainage, and financial accountability. “There […]

Endorsement watch: For Calvert

The Chron’s second endorsement on Friday, and what should be their last for the regular election, was for Rogene Calvert in At Large #3. Experience is valuable on Houston City Council. Council members often spend their first two-year term learning the basics of job: Figuring out who the players are, learning how various departments and […]

Endorsement watch: Our first twofer

The Chron has two endorsements today, one that was easy and one that was likely more challenging. First, the easy one. In four years as an at-large city councilman, Stephen Costello has gradually become a “go to” guy on two major issues facing the city of Houston: drainage; and finance and pensions. Costello, a civil […]

A deeper look at the city’s pension funds

I appreciate this just-the-facts analysis of the city’s pension funds. It’s delightfully free of fearmongering and doomsaying, which tend to cloud most stories on the funds. I don’t have anything specific to say about the article, but I do want to make a few general points about the city’s pension situation. 1. I reject the […]

We must destroy the pensions in order to save them

There’s so much wrong with this I almost don’t know where to begin. Houston is the Titanic – it certainly looks impressive, but icebergs lie ahead. That’s the image that mayoral candidate Ben Hall drew when he talked to the Houston Chronicle editorial board last week. No debate here. Like an iceberg on the horizon, […]

Hall’s five point crimefighting plan

From the inbox: Houstonians do not feel safe in their homes and their communities. Houston’s crime numbers remain dangerously high and criminals are victimizing us daily. The only thing we hear from the Mayor’s office on this issue is silence. It is unacceptable. “As Mayor, I will make sure that criminals know this City belongs […]

Hall and the firefighters

Ben Hall has the support of the firefighters’ union. He has also criticized Mayor Parker for not doing enough to deal with the financial stability of the pension funds. How does he reconcile these two seemingly contradictory positions? Not surprisingly, he’s light on the details. The fire union’s endorsement puts Hall in a political pickle. […]

The Chron continues to rage against the pensions

Hobby horse mounted, away we go! There is something particularly frustrating about municipal pensions, which are funded by the city but controlled by the state. This is a recipe for disaster, which can be seen in ballooning burdens to the budget that undercut investments in our city. To her credit, Parker spent some time at […]

Modified teacher retirement bill passes Senate

Modified again, this time enough to garner support from the teachers. Teachers, the state of Texas and school districts all would pay more to help support the Teacher Retirement System of Texas under a bill passed by the Texas Senate Wednesday. Under Senate Bill 1458, the $117 billion TRS fund would get a boost from […]

Modified teacher retirement bill put forth

Sounds like progress, though we’ll have to see how it goes from here. Members of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas objected strongly last week to a legislative proposal that would have required about half of current employees to work until age 62 to receive full retirement benefits. They now have no minimum retirement age […]

Senate examines pensions

This sort of thing always makes me nervous. Legislative proposals to shore up Texas’ two largest public pension funds could require teachers and state employees to work years longer than they must today to get full retirement benefits. For example, a teacher who started in the classroom at age 23 may now take full retirement […]

The Chronicle is very disappointed in you, Houston delegation

Here they are throwing a hissy fit to express their deep sense of disappointment. Just shy of 6,000 bills were filed in the Texas Legislature prior to last week’s deadline. Nearly half of those came in the usual blizzard of filing activity 72 hours prior to the Friday, March 8, witching hour. Some of these […]

Houston’s health care cost problem

This is a problem for which there’s no easy solution. Hoping to contain rising health care costs, Mayor Annise Parker recently hiked premiums and cut benefits for employees, a move union leaders said overburdens workers and some City Council members said does not adequately cut costs. Health benefits, long a budget-buster for governments, jumped from […]

On city delegations and firefighter pensions

There are two points of interest in this Chron editorial about the Legislature and the desire of the city to get a bill passed that would give it some leverage over the firefighters in their fight over the pension fund. Sometimes we wonder if there really is such a thing as a “Houston delegation” representing […]

City pension funds make their case

This deserves more visibility than it’s gotten. Representatives of Houston’s three employee pension boards told a Houston City Council committee Monday that the sky is not falling and pleaded with council members to be patient in examining the city’s pension obligations. The presentations from the firefighters’ pension, the municipal employees’ pension and the police pension […]

Interview with Todd Clark and Chris Gonzales of the firefighters’ pension fund

I have written numerous times about the ongoing battle between Mayor Parker and the Houston Firefighter’s Relief and Retirement Fund, which is to say the firefighters’ pension fund. After I noted a legal victory by the city in its attempt to get more information from the fund, I was contacted by a representative of the […]

It’s all about the pensions

I didn’t stay up to see the end of the Monday Night Football debacle. Whether you endured it or not, perhaps you’re wondering what exactly this particular labor dispute is about. To be blunt, it’s about the NFL attacking the referees’ retirement plan. The referees’ union and NFL team owners remain at odds on several […]

Texas’ public pension funds are solvent through 2075

There was a hearing in the Lege this week about the state’s pension plans, and the good news is that they’re in pretty good shape. The better news is that the members of the Lege’s pension committee recognize that fact. State Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, who is said to be in the running to be […]

Here comes the pension fight

Not looking forward to it. A day of reckoning has arrived in Houston, the city’s financial stewards say, to choose between pensions and pothole repairs. Days after voters in two California cities curbed public employee retirement benefits and voters in Wisconsin rejected an effort to recall a governor who required state workers to pay more […]

New frontiers in cost cutting

Apparently, you can cut costs by defaulting on your bills. Why didn’t I think of that? Councilwoman Helena Brown has submitted a budget amendment aimed at solving the city’s decade-old pension problem: Stop paying. Her amendment calls for defaulting on more than $200 million in contributions due to the city’s three public employee pension systems […]

City sues firefighter pension board

We knew this was coming. The city of Houston sued the firefighters pension board in state District Court on Wednesday in an effort to pry open the retirement system’s books for a look at supporting data behind the $61 million annual bill it sends to City Hall. “We need access to this very basic information […]

If you can’t specify it, it’s not wasteful

After reading this op-ed by Todd Clark, the chair of the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (that is, their pension fund), I have decided to adopt two rules for all future discussion of the city’s budget. Let me speak briefly about the city’s Long Range Financial Management Task Force. This advisory committee could have […]

It’s always easier to talk in the abstract

I have three things to say about this. The city of Houston has been papering over multimillion-dollar budget deficits for nine years by borrowing money, tapping its rainy day fund, selling buildings and just plain putting off bills to the future, according to city finance officials. [...] This year, Mayor Annise Parker has pledged not […]

A bit of perspective on pensions

Mayor Parker and current members of Council will receive pensions from the city some day. They also will some day vote on what steps the city should take to deal with the pension system. Is that a problem? “Whenever you’re an elected official, there’s not an easy way around it,” agreed Josh McGee, vice president […]

Parker to sue pension boards for more information

It’s pensions all the time around here. Mayor Annise Parker said Thursday that her administration is gearing up to sue the city’s pension systems to open their books and preparing a “road show” of pension reforms she will present throughout the area with the idea of getting state legislation to achieve them. The city wants […]

Two views of pensions

The Chron’s Sunday op-ed pages were filled with pension-related discussion. Here are the citizen members of the Long-Range Financial Management Task Force, fresh off of their report release, taking to the pages to lay out what the city wants from the Lege on pension issues. The Texas Legislature must change the current law that gives […]

The Long-Range Financial Management Task Force report is out

A little light reading for your Sunday. The report generated criticism before the figurative ink was dry on it. Union leaders criticized the report before it was even delivered to the mayor, with Houston Organization of Public Employees President Melvin Hughes declaring the report an attack on employees. “It’s not about balancing the budget,” Hughes […]

Another item for the city’s legislative wish list

Loren Steffy brings up a familiar issue that has added salience now as the city tries to deal with its long term finances. Across the city, prime office buildings are selling for far more than their tax values, leaving billions in potential tax revenue on the table at a time when city and county budgets […]