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New Pension Ruled OK For City Firefighters

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
St. Louis firefighters check an adjoining building during a five-alarm fire in downtown St. Louis on Dec. 8, 2011. The six story, vacant building is a complete loss as 125 firefighters fought the stubborn blaze for five hours.

A St. Louis judge has ruled that the city can establish a new pension system for firefighters.

Judge Robert Dierker made the ruling Monday.

The new system went into effect retroactively Feb.1 and will require firefighters to contribute 9 percent to their retirement. That’s one percent more than currently.

Jeff Rainford---the chief of staff for Mayor Francis Slay---says the new pension will save the city $4 million this year and still benefit firefighters.

"I mean they have a Cadillac plan today and now they’re going to have a Cadillac plan that maybe has plastic seats instead of leather seats," he said. "It will slow down the massive cost increases that have really hampered the city’s ability to deliver services."

City officials say the pension costs have risen from $6 million a year in 2001 to $29 million today.

Firefighters who are retired or had 20 years of service before Feb. 1 will still receive benefits from the old system.

Firefighters Local 23, one of the plaintiffs in the case, have not returned calls seeking comment.

Judgement - Firefighters Pension Case by St. Louis Public Radio

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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