An effort by St. Louis mayor Francis Slay to get the spiraling cost of firefighter pensions under control also allow the same sex-partners of city firefighters to get survivor benefits if their partner is killed in the line of duty.
"This is something that could not be done at the state level, would not be done at the state level, which is another reason we want to get local control of the firefighter pensions here in St. Louis," Slay said.
Though they waited until the last possible minute in the current session, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved a measure that lays the ground for reforms to the pension system for its firefighters.
A Missouri House committee has unanimously passed a bill that would make cuts to firefighter pensions in St. Louis, but not before committee members made a few changes to the legislation.
New St. Louis firefighters would pay in 9 percent of their salaries, instead of 8 percent as originally proposed, and applicants would have to disclose any pre-existing injuries and conditions before being hired. New hires would still get back 25 percent of what they pay in as originally proposed. It’s sponsored by State Rep. Mike Leara (R, Sunset Hills).
The bill would not go as far as a proposal made by Mayor Francis Slay: Among the differences, Slay’s plan would have all firefighters put 9 percent of their salaries into the system, and new hires would not get any of that money back upon retirement. The bill in the State House would have new firefighters put in 8 percent, and upon retirement would get back 25 percent of what they paid in. F.I.R.E. Chairman and St. Louis firefighter Abram Pruitt, Junior, traveled to Jefferson City to support the bill.
The dispute over the best way to reduce the cost of firefighter pensions in the city of St. Louis continued on Friday, with Lewis Reed, the president of the Board of Aldermen, laying out his plan.
Reed, whose Twitter feed tracked the progress of a Thursday late-night meeting among himself, firefighters, and selected aldermen, says his plan will reduce the city's required contribution into the Fireman's Retirement System for next year by $7.6 million. Reed unveiled the plan at a City Hall news conference Friday.
St. Louis city firefighters took their objections to pension reform proposals from Mayor Francis Slay to City Hall on Friday, the day the legislation making the changes was formally introduced.
Firefighters say they don't object to the cost-saving proposals in the bills, including reduced disability payments for firefighters who can be retrained for a second career, and a two-tier system that could reduce pension benefits for new hires.
Updated at 12:20 p.m. with comments from the firefighters union.
Updated at 3:55 p.m. with timeframe, and more comments from Mayor Slay and the union.
Saying the current system is financially unsustainable and could result in huge reductions to city services, Mayor Francis Slay has officially unveiled his plan to change pensions for the St. Louis city firefighters.