Monday, December 20, 2010

Firefighters Get Court Delay

The Pittsburgh Firefighters Union has asked a judge to postpone a hearing on its request to stop the state from taking over the city’s pension fund. Union attorney Joshua Bloom says now that the City Council has rejected what looks like the last opportunity to fund the pension up to the 50% level by the end of the year, the union is looking to take up the issue in the new year.

Pennsylvania Act 44 requires the city to turn its pension fund over to the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System if it does not make a payment of approximately $220 million by year’s end. The suit asked the judge to force the city to raise taxes enough to keep the fund under local control. The union says local control is required under the union’s contact.

Bloom says the union no longer wants to take that tack. However, Bloom says the union still believes act 44 is unconstitutional as it applies to the pension fund, “Also Act 44 is unconstitutional in that they singled out the city of Pittsburgh. The city of Pittsburgh is the only municipality across the commonwealth that is required on a mandatory basis to turn their pensions over to the state and there was absolutely no reasonable basis to single out our city.”

Bloom says the hope is that the city can find a way to avoid the take over some time in 2011. “We are asking the mayor and City Council to save our city,” says Bloom, “and what I mean by that is if the pensions are not adequately funded by the end of the year and the state takes over the pensions the payment schedule that will be mandated by the state will cause looming bankruptcy and we believe this city will suffer the same fate as Detroit.”

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