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'Not fiscally responsible': Mayor vetoes bill returning pension control to firefighters

Aldermen earlier this month voted 19-3 to return control of firefighter pensions to a board dominated by firefighter interests
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson on Thursday vetoed legislation returning pension board control to firefighter interests, saying she agreed with other top city officials that the move "is not fiscally responsible."

Aldermen earlier this month voted 19-3 to return control of firefighter pensions to a board dominated by firefighter interests. In order to override the veto, 20 aldermen would have to vote for such a move in a special meeting before April 20, when the next session begins. That's seen as extremely unlikely.

Since 2013, employees with more than 20 years of service or are retired have been covered under one plan, governed by a board made up primarily by firefighter or fire union officials. A separate plan, which covers new employees and those with fewer than 20 years of service as of 2013, has been governed by a separate board led primarily by city officials.

The measure OK'd by aldermen looked to consolidate oversight of both plans under the firefighter-led board, a move Alderman Tom Oldenburg, the bill's sponsor, had said would save on administrative costs. It would also leave firefighters in control of investment decisions for their own money, he said. He added there would be no changes to benefits without approval from the Board of Aldermen.

But in her veto letter to aldermen, Krewson wrote that the new plan, called FRP, is performing better than the old one, called FRS. The city's contribution to FRS will rise next year to $3.4 million, "or an increase of 260% for a plan that is closed and winding down."

And the city pays $4.8 million every year to repay funds borrowed and contributed to FRS in 2007, Krewson said.

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