Mayor Pushing Harder On Pension Funds

Mayor Annise Parker is pushing hard for more transparency from the city's three pension funds. She says she would even file a lawsuit against the funds if they don't release information to help her balance the city budget.

Last week the Mayor released a report showing that Houston’s current budget is on an unsustainable path.

And she focused on pension contributions as one of the most worrisome liabilities.

Now Parker wants the three pension funds – for firefighters, police, and civilian workers – to turn over more information, such as when workers might plan to retire.

Janice Evans is the mayor’s spokeswoman:

“We don’t at this point have the information. One employee that may have a whole lot of vacation and sick time decides to retire in the middle of a fiscal year, that’s a major hit to the budget.”

Evans said the unions for the police and civilian workers had made some helpful concessions in the past, such as raising the retirement age.

But she says the firefighter’s union has not.

“There have been absolutely no changes by the firefighter’s pension and no willingness to sit down and even begin discussions about any possible changes.”

Jeff Caynon is president of the firefighter’s union. He says Mayor Parker is trying to reframe the financial  narrative as the city heads into a tough budget season.

But he says his pension fund is already providing the city will all the required data.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the city is getting all the information that they need to make an educated, informed decision about the budget. And I don’t think that’s what this is about.”

Parker has said that if the pension funds don’t cooperate, she would sue them to force them to turn over more detailed information.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...