Westminster, Police Department work to develop pension plan

May 19, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Westminster officials are working with the city's Police Department to come up with a suitable pension plan - one that will satisfy the retirement needs of the 43-member force as well as attract and retain officers.

The Common Council withdrew its proposed supplemental retirement plan last week after officers voiced opposition. Officers want a plan that would allow them to retire after 25 years - something the city's proposal lacked.

"We're not going to bring forth any plan without this," said Councilman Roy L. Chiavacci, chairman of the council's public safety committee.

The city has reserved about $125,000 for the pension plan in the budget approved last week.

Under the rejected proposal, the city would have deposited the equivalent of 5 percent to 9 percent - depending on length of service - of an officer's annual salary into an account similar to a savings plan. Officers would have had to work 30 years to receive the plan's maximum benefits.

At a public hearing last month, members of the Westminster Police Association disapproved of the plan.

Officers objected to several key components - the most serious being the plan's reliability on investments for revenue, the 30-year threshold for maximum benefits and the plan's failure to reward officers for long tenure, allowing new members of the force to reap more benefits than senior employees.

"I don't think it's prudent for the city to move forward with a plan that most of the officers apparently don't want," said Council President Damian L. Halstad.

He said the two sides will explore other possibilities.

City officials have worked for a month to overcome hard feelings about the initial plan and are working with officers on an alternative proposal.

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