New York Fire Pension Fund
GENERAL NEWS FEATURES
New York City Fire Department’s pension fund is the only fund of its character conducted for the benefit of the employes of the larger departments of the city government which is not operating under an apparent annual defiency. Yet, the fund in the opinion of experts expressed yesterday, must inevitably drift backward until it occupies the same position toward the city as the Teachers’ Retirement Fund, and the Police Fund, each of which now is showing annual deficiencies of several hundred thousand dollars.
One of the chief reasons why the Fire Department fund, the experts declare, is not already being operated in solvency, its debts being overcome by the direct appropriation of city money from year to year, is its youth and a provision which specifies that a fund of $800,000, established long ago, shall be maintained intact. Thus, whenever a deficiency should arise, it might easily be overcome by the aid of city money, under the legal direction that the $800,000 fund be kept up to that amount. When the last report of the Fire Department’s fund was made it showed for the first time in its receipts an item of $137,097.00 as income from “certificate of indebtedness (revenue bonds).” The application of this money to the fund, after all pension payments had been made, left the $800,000 fund intact and with a surplus, the balance on hand at the beginning of last year being $852,154.20. Figures appear in the report which, experts declare, support their contention that the whole system of pensions in New York should be rearranged and placed under control of a central pension board. They show the vast amount of money expended every year for the support of retired firemen or for the maintenance of widows and orphans or dependent parents of men who formerly were in the service. As a result of the system now in force it is declared that in the Fire Department, as well as in the Police Department, inequalities occur, and the system of itself tends to drive out of the department men who have reached their greatest efficiency as fire fighters. This is because the men find it more profitable to retire under a Fire Department pension and obtain other employment, producing for themselves in this manner a combined income greater than the department salaries. From the time the Fire Department pension fund was started, in 1871. the report shows its total receipts from all sources amount to $12,075,902.55. In the same period the fund has paid out in pensions $11,223,748.29. The amount paid in pensions in 1913 was $985,702.28 out of a total income of $994,406.47. Mow the amount in pensions paid grows from year to year is shown by comparing tbc payments oof 1912. which were $985,702.28, to $888,246.32, which was the amount of pensions paid out of the fund in 1911. Up to 1911 the total disbursements from the fund were $9,341,966.14, an average yearly payment of pensions of $233,549.15. The average yearly payment for the last two years has been $940,891.07. On the pension rolls of the Fire Department when the 1912 report was made were 1,534 persons, an increase in the number of pensioners from 1,477 who were on the rolls at the end of 1911. This number has been added to again by the retirements in the last year, and, it is declared, an even greater amount will be required to meet the mandatory payments for this year. Despite these constantly increasing payments, it is said, the city has not available records to show its liabilities to the force as it now is constituted, and has no fund set aside from which may be produced revenue to meet the obligations that will occur annually in increasing amounts..