Howard firefighters approve pension package

Plan lets 20-year veterans retire at 50 percent of pay

March 11, 2001|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Howard County firefighters approved a new, more generous pension package by a vote of 135-9 Friday that will allow 20-year veterans to retire at half pay.

"I'm relieved," said Michael B. Rund, president of the Howard County Professional Firefighters Association, noting that some members initially were angry because the negotiating team rejected a second option that would have allowed more generous terms at a higher cost to members. Once the terms were explained in detail, Rund said, most members backed the package.

The plan also allows firefighters with 25 years of experience to retire at 65 percent of their pay and to get 70 percent after 30 years. The county will pay the $500,000 annual cost of the package.

The option Rund's team turned down called for 75 percent pensions after 25 years and 80 percent after 30 years - closer to a deal the county police got - but that package would have required hefty cash contributions from firefighters.

County Labor Commissioner Robert Lazarewicz said the vote means the package reflects what the membership wants. A bill formalizing the deal will be introduced before the County Council in April, he said.

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