OMAHA, Neb. — An actuarial analysis shows the city of Omaha and its police and firefighters have put enough into their pension fund for the first time in at least a decade.
The Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/2cQ1kkj ) reported that it has been 10 years since the city instituted a pension reform package intended to prevent a collapse of the fire and police system. It included payments from the city and employees as well as reduced pension benefits.
The city contributed $42.1 million, slightly more than the $41.9 million that the actuary determined was required.
Overall, as of Jan. 1, the plan was funded at 50.8 percent. The report determined the plan’s liability to be $1.2 billion, compared to $621 million in assets.
The funded ratio is up slightly from last year’s 49.6 percent. And it is well above the 39 percent ratio in 2008, which was the low point.
There is still debate as to whether the plan will produce the projected average of 8 percent return over the long run.
“We continue to move in the right direction, which is moving to be fully funded,” said John Wells, president of the Omaha police union.
But Platte Institute CEO Jim Vokal argued the percent increase isn’t really impressive.
“Omaha still has a problem with police and fire, and we’re not going to earn our way out of it,” Vokal said.
Platte Institute is a Nebraska economic research company that will release a separate report Monday that will advocate moving away from a traditional pension for firefighters and police officers.
The debate hinges on the current police and fire pension plan’s assumption that it will produce, on average, an 8 percent return over the long run.
The plan has exceeded that target over the last few decades. But Vokal argues that it’s not a reasonable assumption going forward in this post-Great Recession economy.
The city and the Omaha Police Officers Association could not come to an agreement over the 2015 labor contract, in large part because Stothert wanted additional pension concessions from officers. The 2015 police contract is now before the state’s labor court.
Wells also said additional concessions wouldn’t be necessary. According to Wells making more cuts to benefits could affect the amount of good job candidates to be police officers.
Omaha World-Herald reported Fire union President Steve LeClair could not be reached for comment late last week.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com