Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement FundFacts
While there may be a common perception that firefighter benefits are “taxpayerfunded”, taxpayers are actually paying for only about one-fifth of the benefits with theother eighty percent coming from the trust of cumulated investment returns since1937 plus the firefighters’ own payroll contributions. So, the City’s claim that they arerequired to pay for the majority of the firefighter benefits is inaccurate.
On the Fund’s refusal to hand over Members’ personalinformation to the Mayor
The Fund is understandably reluctant to divulge pension members’personal financial information, as in the past the Mayor has usedmembers’ information for her political purposes by sharing it with TheHouston Chronicle to support her political objective of gaining localcontrol of the Fund. The Fund’s current actuarial valuation and annualreport are very comprehensive and provide the City all informationreasonably necessary for its budgeting process.
On the Mayor’s claims that pension costs are excessive
The rate that the City of Houston contributes into the plan is 23.9% of fire department payroll. That number was set for a three-year periodwhich ends on June 30, 2014,
and constitutes a savings of nearly$38 million to the City compared to the prior three year period
. This proves utterly false the Mayor’s suggestion that firefighters’pension costs are unsustainable.
On the importance of the firefighters’ pension as compensation
Houston firefighters rank nationally 139
in pay and receive no SocialSecurity benefits. Houston averages more high-risk calls to itsfirefighters than any other city with a comparable population density.