Mayor Landrieu Signs Executive Order to Create Firefighters Pension Reform Working Group

NEW ORLEANS, LA— Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an executive order establishing a Firefighters Pension Reform Working Group – an official Mayoral Advisory Committee – which is tasked with recommending changes to ensure the fund is sustainable and affordable for retirees, active firefighters, the City of New Orleans and taxpayers. The nine-member group will be made up of City Officials, firefighter’s representatives, and citizen representatives with expertise in key, relevant business fields such as accounting, finance, and risk management.

         Mayor Landrieu said, “The City and the firefighters must have a financially sustainable and affordable retirement plan as we move into the future. The status quo is unacceptable. I am thankful to the Business Council for helping bring everyone to the table again to develop a path forward. The end result should ensure that the authority to make changes to the fund rests with the people to who are responsible for paying. We must also find a way to provide employees and retirees with a dignified, sustainable, and affordable retiree benefits package that is fair to employees, retirees and taxpayers.”

 

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         The Firefighters Pension Reform Working Group will include:

         Andy Kopplin, First Deputy Mayor & Chief Administrative Officer for the City of New Orleans;

         Hon. Stacy Head, President of the New Orleans City Council;

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         Timothy McConnell, Superintendent of the New Orleans Fire Department;

         Paul Mitchell, Jr., Deputy Director of the New Orleans Fire Fighters Pension & Relief Fund;

         Thomas F. Meager, III, Secretary-Treasurer of New Orleans Fire Fighters Pension & Relief Fund;

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         Nick Felton, President of New Orleans Fire Fighters Association, Local 632;

         Hardy Fowler, an accountant and the former Managing Partner of KPMG New Orleans office;

         Scott Jacobs, an insurance and risk management professional;

         Greg Rattler, Sr., the first Vice President of Government and Non-profit Banking at JPMorgan Chase in New Orleans

 

         Paul Flower, President of Woodward Design-Build and Chairman of the Business Council of New Orleans & the River Region, will serve as a non-voting Chairman of the Working Group.

 

         Meetings of the nine-person Working Group will be open to the public and media.

         The Working Group will be tasked with examining the New Orleans Firefighters Pension & Relief Fund’s structure, contributions, investment strategy, and benefits. It will specifically look at ways of getting additional revenue into the Pension Fund as well as sustainable pension benefit levels. They will also look at best practices from around the country, and will ultimately make recommendations to the Fund, the Mayor, the New Orleans City Council, and the Louisiana Legislature on alternative plan designs. Creating a public working group follows the model carried out by many cities across the country grappling with public pension debts and obligations.

         The Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region is supporting the Working Group by helping fund technical assistance and outside consultants.

         Funded both by the City and the Business Council, the Working Group will be advised by two outside consultants who have experience helping task forces in other cities reach consensus on addressing unfunded pension liabilities. Vijay Kapoor of The Kapoor Company, mediated consensus pension agreements in Lexington, KY and Chattanooga, TN, will serve as a mediator and provide technical analysis to the group. Eric Atwater of the Segal Company who has worked with Memphis, TN will provide actuarial analysis for the group.

         Chairman Paul Flower stated, “The Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region has long played a role in collaboratively working with government, civic, business and other organizations to address critical problems facing the region. We have closely followed the New Orleans Firefighter’s Pension and Relief Fund’s financial situation and are concerned that its unfunded liabilities threaten the City’s fiscal future and the Pension Fund’s ability to provide promised benefits to active and retired firefighters and their families. We have offered financial assistance in bringing in pension experts to develop a shared path forward in stabilizing and reforming the Fund. The Business Council strongly believes that all parties – employees, retirees, and taxpayers – have a mutual interest in seeing the Pension Fund get back on its feet financially and will everyone need to work together to ensure that this happens. We understand that this will not be an easy process, but we think now is the right time to address these issues.”

         This is the Mayor’s first executive order in 2014 and his 14th overall since taking office in 2010.

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