City of DeRidder will pay more for firefighter retirement fund - FOX29 Lake Charles

City of DeRidder will pay more for firefighter retirement fund

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(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC) (Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC) (Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)

When a firefighter retires, his pension is paid by a state fund that each city in Louisiana pays into. 

"It's just something that we have to face," said DeRidder Mayor Ron Roberts. 

Last week, Roberts spoke to the DeRidder City Council about the firefighters retirement fund. 

"All retirement plans must be fully funded," said Roberts. "They must get rid of their unfunded liability." 

But right now, only 76 percent of the retirement plan for firefighters is funded, and the deadline for it to be completed is 2028 - only 11 years away. 

Roberts sits on the state board overseeing firefighter retirements and he said right now, employers will have to increase how much they contribute. 

"Our employer contribution right now on firemen is 25-and-a-half percent, so in five years we're going to be paying 35 percent," he said. "That's a big bite." 

But Roberts doesn't see the city increasing its taxes to get the retirement plan fully funded. 

"I don't think taxes will increase to help fund retirement," he said. "I think the portion of the city budget that goes towards retirement will increase - it will have to." 

Council member Gordon Jenkins agrees. 

"(A) tax increase right now - absolutely not," said Jenkins. 

But they both worry about the future of the city's revenue. 

"Money is just going to start drying up as far as the city's revenue comes up," said Jenkins. 

If taxes don't increase,  Roberts said services would have to be cut back for the city to increase its contribution to that retirement plan. 

"When you increase, you have more people on the entry level paying into the system and we're not increasing the number of people paying into the system, so the only extra source of revenue we have is for the city to increase its contribution," said Roberts. 

While this will impact the city's budget now, Jenkins believes a tax increase will come eventually. 

"Some day down the road, it's going to happen," he said. 

Roberts said that the city's taxes are currently at 10 percent, and that if they wanted to even consider raising taxes, they would have to go before the legislature to do so.

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