by Jim Nintzel
Looks like voters will get to decide whether the city should scrap its current pension program.
Political consultant Pete Zimmerman emailed The Range today to inform us that the Committee for Sustained Retirement Benefits has turned in more than 23,000 signatures to put the Sustainable Retirement Benefits Act on the November city ballot. The group needed 12,730 valid signatures, so there's lots of padding there to fight off legal challenges.
The initiative would force the city to scrap the current pension program for new hires and instead enroll them in a program similar to a 401K system.
City officials, who have been created a task force to address pension issues, warn that if the initiative passes, it could bankrupt the city because taxpayers would be on the hook for paying out pensions without the benefit of having new employees contributing to the pension program.
The initiative has received its funding from the Liberty Initiative Fund, a new political action committee that has been getting involved in initiative campaigns around the country. More background on the effort here.
More to come on the costs and various claims on both sides.
UPDATED: City Councilman Steve Kozachik commented on the initiative via email:
No two pensions are alike in terms of the demographics of the participants. What this group is doing is proposing a one-size-fits-all solution in several different states. I've looked at the petition language and the fundamental question it leaves unanswered is how they're going to protect the General Fund from collapsing under the weight of people opting out of the current plan. You don't kill the patient in order to cure the disease. Unless they can explain how collapsing the system is going to save it, I'm not on board with what they're proposing.