New Orleans Firefighters Offer Concessions in Pension Fight

The standoff between Mayor Mitch Landrieu and New Orleans firefighters showed small signs of a thaw Wednesday (Sept. 3) as Civil Court Judge Robin Giarrusso gave the city another month to produce a plan to cover its massive debts to the firefighters’ pension fund, reports nola.com.

Tommy Meagher, secretary and treasurer of the pension fund’s governing board, said the firefighters are willing to refinance the city’s obligations in creative ways to help lower the monthly payments going forward. 

“The pension board has gone above and beyond everything we can do,” he said.

He explained that the board had agreed to stretch the city’s future pension obligations over 30 years rather than 14.5 years — a tactic that he compared to refinancing a home mortgage. He also said the board is willing to extend “pension smoothing,” an accounting strategy that lets the fund’s actuary predict higher interest rates when calculating the fund’s future investment returns. Essentially, if the fund can show it will earn more on its investments down the road, the city can pay less to the fund each month.

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