City of Houston Sues Firefighter Pension System

Mayor Annise Parker announced Wednesday the city is suing the firefighters’ pension fund in an effort to gain greater control and limit rising contribution costs, reports The Houston Chronicle.

Parker has twice failed to persuade state legislators to grant her local negotiating authority over the firefighters’ pension as she has with police and municipal pensions. The mayor repeatedly has said the current plan is financially unsustainable for the city.

Houston’s annual contributions to all its employee pensions more than doubled in the last decade.

“We’re not seeking to strip anyone of their benefits,” Parker said. “We’re trying to force negotiations.”

The lawsuit argues the 1997 law governing the fire pension at the state-level is unconstitutional, said City Attorney David Feldman.

“Houston is the only city affected by the law and, moreover, it has no rational basis,” Feldman said.

Bryan Sky-Eagle, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, said he was shocked by the filing, particularly the timing, as the city and union currently are bargaining over wages and benefits. The union does not manage the pension fund.

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