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Posts Tagged ‘pension fund’

Endorsement watch: Firefighters for Turner

From the inbox: HOUSTON, March 23, 2015 – State Rep. Sylvester Turner has earned the endorsement of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association in this year’s mayoral race, the HPFFA said today. HPFFA President Alvin W. White, Jr. said 84 percent of voting fire fighters approved the recommendation of the HPFFA board of directors to […]

The Memphis pension cutting experience

In discussions about Houston’s pension liabilities, the city of Detroit is often trotted out as an analogy and cautionary tale. There’s another city that may be a more accurate comparison, and it’s offering an illustration right now of what might happen if things proceed as many candidates for local office and the Houston Chronicle would […]

Police officers’ pension fund speaks up

The firefighters’ pension fund is the one that gets all the attention, but it’s not the only one the city is responsible for. The Houston Police Officers Pension System (HPOPS) has sent a letter to the city reminding it that they have a deal that restricts what the city can request from the Legislature. Police […]

Council’s pension meeting

It was about what you’d expect. Many City Council members who attended a special meeting Friday to discuss Mayor Annise Parker’s controversial deal with the city’s firefighters pension called the gathering a success, despite two members walking out and breaking a quorum before a vote could be held to support or oppose the agreement. The […]

Council meeting called to discuss firefighter pension deal

Some Council members are determined to discuss the deal Mayor Parker made with the firefighters’ pension fund. Four City Council members have taken advantage of a rarely used provision in city law to call a special meeting Friday to discuss Mayor Annise Parker’s controversial deal with the city’s firefighter pension board that was announced last […]

Costello makes his official entry

That makes him number five of some as yet unknown number to make that announcement. Houston City Councilman Stephen Costello pitched himself Monday as a no-frills, no-nonsense politician who would address the city’s problems like the engineer he is if voters elect him mayor this fall. Costello, a wonky at-large councilman who chairs the body’s […]

The pension deal

Not sure yet how I feel about this. Mayor Annise Parker and Houston’s firefighter pension trustees have reached a deal that would lower the city’s payments for three years, a move that would mark an abrupt reversal for the mayor. The announcement came late Thursday from the fire pension board, whose leaders for years have […]

King makes his official entry

Add Bill King to the “made his official announcement” list. In the middle of a noisy, torn-up west Houston street that he said epitomized Houston’s crumbling roads, Bill King launched his campaign for mayor Monday morning, pledging to return the city “back to basics.” King, a former Houston Chronicle columnist and a mayor of Kemah, […]

2015 Mayoral manifesto: Public safety

Preliminaries Transportation When I first started thinking about this series a couple of months ago, this section was all going to be about the budget. We’ve covered this ground before – public safety is about 65% of the total city budget, yet it’s always “off limits” for consideration when there are shortfalls. It’s always the […]

Appeals court reverses ruling about pension retiree information

So much for that. A state district court’s 2013 ruling that Houston’s fire pension board must turn over detailed information on its retirees to help city officials better project future pension bills has been overturned on appeal. Justices with the 1st Court of Appeals issued the opinion Tuesday, arguing that, in essence, state law protects […]

Don’t look for a meet-and-confer bill in the Lege this year

Buried in this story about the city and the county preparing to play defense during the legislative session is this update on the state of relations between the city and the firefighters. In her first two sessions, Houston Mayor Annise Parker failed to gain traction with legislation that would grant the city meet-and-confer powers that […]

Firefighter pension board makes an offer to the city

This was unexpected. The trustees of Houston’s firefighter pension, who for years have fought the mere mention of changes to benefits as Houston’s enormous pension burden has continued to grow, now are shopping a compromise proposal. Fire pension leaders say they simply are trying to save the city money as it approaches several years of […]

Parker proposes new firefighter pension plan

We’ll see about this. With the city of Houston facing huge and rising pension costs, Mayor Annise Parker on Thursday unveiled a proposal to put new firefighters in a separate, less generous plan that would do away with expensive automatic cost-of-living adjustments. The move would not affect current firefighters covered by the Houston Firefighters Relief […]

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 […]