Dallas Mayor Announces Group to Help Improve Police and Fire Pension System

DALLAS (WBAP/KLIF) –  Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announced on Monday that he has formed a study group to make recommendations on ways to improve the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.

Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata praised what he called “forward thinking” by the Mayor.

“There’s no reason why we should wait until the 2025-26 budget year to look at what we have to do to further fix the pension issues that we have,” Mata said.

The DPA President emphasized the need for preparation to avoid fallout experienced with previous budget issues.

“What he had to do under Mayor Rawlings was take majorly take benefits away from Firefighters and Officers who were within the pension issue,” he said. “So I think it’s a great idea, so that we have plenty of time to really look at what answers and fixes we can have.”

According to the City of Dallas, Mayor Johnson asked Bill Quinn and Rob Walters to put together the group of financial and pension professionals outside of City Hall to study potential solutions. Quinn is the chairman of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System Board of Trustees and formerly served as the chair of a task force that recommended a series of changes to shore up the city’s Employees’ Retirement Fund. Walters, who also served on the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System’s Board of Trustees, is a partner at Gibson Dunn and the chairman of the Dallas Citizens Council.

As they develop recommendations, Mayor Johnson wants the study group to involve advisors, consultants, and institutions as they see fit.

Because the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is governed by state law rather than city ordinance, the 85th Texas Legislature overhauled the system through HB 3158. The legislation passed unanimously after a debate among city officials, lawmakers, police officers, firefighters, retirees, and the pension system’s board.

According to the city, a provision in HB 3158 requires the pension system to submit plans to achieve full funding within 30 years, based on an independent actuarial analysis, to the Texas Pension Review Board in 2024. Currently, the system is about 46% funded and is projected to reach full funding in 75 years.

“A shaky pension fund hurts our taxpayers and our public safety efforts. We need to be able to attract and retain the best of the best in our police and fire departments,” said Mayor Johnson. “While the law says we could wait another few years to tackle this problem, we cannot afford to cross our fingers and hope for the best. It is prudent and responsible to start this process now so that we can proceed in a collaborative manner and with data guiding our decision-making.”

The mayor hopes to reach a consensus on a path forward earlier, during the interim period before the 88th Texas Legislature, which begins in 2023.

Listen to Clayton Neville’s story below:

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