Hollywood Voters Approve Pension Reform

HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) – Voters in Hollywood have spoken — they want pension reform for city employees.

The decision means hundreds of city workers — including police and firemen — will see significant changes to their pension plans, including having to work more years before they can retire with a full pension and seeing less money in their pensions.

It also means the city will save $8.5 million dollars, a crucial step in the city’s plan to fill a $38 million dollar budget gap.

Interim City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark praised the decision by voters.

“We could not longer afford to take care of sidewalks, take care of trees, take care of lighting — quality of life for our residents and our whole community,” she said. “This allows us a much more affordable pension.”

According to the city, the changes mean that police officers and firefighters will not be able to retire with full benefits until they are between 52 and 55 years old. City employees will have to wait until they are 60-65 years old.

The city said the changes preserve what workers have earned and only changes their pension formulas going forward. It also grandfathers in workers with 10 years or more of experience.

Swanson-Rivenbark said what’s happening in Hollywood is being watched closely by other cities, as they grapple with similar concerns over spiraling pension and benefit costs.

“Several of them have been following what’s going on in Hollywood,” she told reporters.

Hollywood police, firefighters and city workers watched the results of the special election come in Tuesday night. They were not pleased with the outcome.

Broward County Police Benevolent Association Vice President Jeffrey Marano said he expects quality officers to leave

“You’re crazy not to go to another city,” Marano told CBS 4 News. “It just makes sense to go to another city that’s more stable, doesn’t mismanage money and at least recognizes their men and women in law enforcement.”

Fire Union President Dan Martinez said the changes will be difficult for firefighters who were nearing retirement.

“With the benefits (the city is) imposing, (firefighters near retirement) are gonna have to risk their lives for another 3 years before they can retire,” Martinez said. “It’s gonna be devastating for them.”

Only 14% of the city’s registered turned out to vote Tuesday — that’s 11,868 voters. Voters approved cuts to both police and fire pensions by a 55-45 margin. Voters approved cutting city workers pensions by a 58-42 percentage.

Firefighters and police officers campaigned outside polling places trying to convince voters to vote against the pension reform. Christine Shembeda supported their position.

“I work in technology,” Shembeda said. “I’m not risking my life every time I do my job so I do respect the job that they do and I do feel that they need to keep their pension plan in place.”

Resident Tibor Stern said the pension plans are too expensive.

“I have to retire at age 65 like everybody else,” he said. “There is no reason for a city employee to retire at age 50.”

Other residents worried that if the pension plans were not cut, homeowners would face a steep hike in property taxes.

The city argued that pension costs have risen more than 300 percent in the past 8 years and were eating up a huge chunk of the city’s budget.

“It’s recommended that cities don’t spend more than 10 percent of their total budget on pensions,” she said. “We were over 25-26 percent.”

Union leaders for police and fire say they are considering their legal options.

The pension cuts are only one part of the city’s plan to fill a 38 million dollar budget shortfall.

The city tentatively agreed Monday to raise property taxes and fees and continue salary cuts for city workers that were enacted this year.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Iwork4aLiving says:

    Fire all them useless employees and privatize all services. We in the private sector can provide better, faster, and less expensive services than them useless city workers.

    Make the Fire Dept a Volunteer Fire Dept.
    Fire the Police and hire BSO, or better yet Blackwater.

    Fire them all.

    1. ron hanforth says:

      you’re a moron. and before you politicize this, I’m a republican. God bless the men and women that serve this city and put their lives on the line every day..even for morons like you.. I’m done.

    2. nick says:

      as a former federal employee, i agree with this posters comment 110%! govt employees are, generally speaking, lazy and wasteful. truth. period. and did i mention lazy?

  2. UckTheFunions says:

    Enough of these hose holding and donut munching employees!! Time to let some of them go, these people think that because they went 9 months to some academy and they get a badge that they have the right to taxpayer funded benefits way beyond anyone in the private industry have. I hope Hollywood gets it right and show these union and public employees who are the bosses: We the taxpayers!!

    1. xoxoxxox says:

      your an idiot….and your comrades who share your sentiment are idiots too…..and yes, i’m a cop….thank god not one in your city….and by the way did i mention i was a cop? um….a tax paying cop?? um…i wonder if i’m actually paying my own salary?? the private sector sucks!! it has for the past two decades….um, you work in the private sector right?? the sector with no pension right? ok…well too bad………..the solution is not realigning the government sector to the private sector, but the private sector to the government sector….actually, i’ll stop here because if I get any tmore echnical with you, you might end up dialing 911 from and over dose of stupidity……

  3. Maria says:

    Why is it legal for Hollywood to cut police and fire pensions, but when Miami Beach does it the union sues and wins?

  4. DeeJay says:

    Miami Beach wrists are weak, limp, if you will. They couldn’t push back a mosquito.

    I applaud it. If the workers don’t like it, it’s their RIGHT and PRIVILEGE to search for other work somewhere that is more lucrative for them.

    Remember, it’s your RIGHT to look for other work that is more lucrative for you. Exercise it. Now!

  5. Joe says:

    It is sad how misinformed the public is. The financial crisis in America was not caused by unions, fire or police. Unions are now perfect scapegoats for cities nation wide. Housing market, bank deregulation and rating agency caused this mess. They got bailed out and executives got richer as our nation suffers. Quick facts on union scapegoats….
    10% of the employees salary goes to their pension
    Ridiculous salaries being published are gross salaries of chiefs
    Chiefs that are hired by the City manager
    Salaries listed for firefighters include are helmets fire gear and more
    90% of firefighters are also paramedics.
    Firefighters pay for there own food on duty. Pay cable, wireless and newspaper bills as well.
    Unions want to negotiate, cities want to cut and point fingers.
    Do you want a fire Dept staffed by 65 year olds? Good luck.
    Everyday, everyday firefighter r injured exposed to deadly diseases, hospitalized and yes die.
    Average lifespan of firefighter 70
    Private sector…………………….80
    Don’t believe me… Look it all. Up

    1. SamSham says:

      ..pay for your own food? cable AND wireless? Wow, imagine that…

      1. Joe says:

        Simply information… I feel the hatred in these posts. Many times, citizens tell us when we shop, they are disgusted that we are getting free food. We don’t. I just want the public to know. I am not whining or complaining about the sacrifices we make to keep the city financially sound. So what, we took a 34% salary cut. We are fortunate to have jobs period. It is an honor and privilege to serve our citizens. We will continue to be professional and do our jobs. You will not ever see a City of Miami firefighter complain publicly. We will continue to save lives, from fire, medical and traumatic injuries. Our nation is suffering and as always the lives of our citizens will be our priority.

  6. Jane Doe says:

    What about the mayors and commissioners pensions? They only have to be in for 8 years to get them. What about going after them. Their mismanagement is why the city is in the situation it is in. Also there are budgets with money in them and 2 CRAs, one of which has accomplished nothing but give money away and they are worth millions.

  7. CAM says:

    BRAVO HOLLYWOOD!!!!! I AM SO SICK OF THE CITY EMPLOYEES,POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS CRYING ABOUT THEIR PENSIONS, BENEFITS AND RIGHTS. WHEN THE ECONOMY WAS GOING GOOD ALL OF THESE ISSUES FLEW UNDER THE RADAR. NOW TAXPAYERS AND CITY MANAGERS ARE REALIZING HOW COSTLY THESE BENEFITS ARE. WHY SHOULD THESE EMPLOYEES EXPECT BETTER BENEFITS THAN PEOPLE IN THE PRIVET SECTOR. I HAVE NOTHING BUT RESPECT FOR THE POLICE AND THE FIRE FIGHTERS, BUT I ALSO REALIZE THAT IF YOU ARE IN THAT PROFESSION THEN YOU CHOSE TO BE THERE, WE KNOW HOW YOU RISK YOUR LIFE EVERYDAY IS A GIVEN, BUT IT DOES NOT ENTITLE YOU TO ANYTHING MORE THAN YOUR PRIVET COUNTERPARTS. I HAVE HAD TO TAKE A 10% PAY CUT, I DON’T LIKE IT BUT I UNDERSTAND IT. THIS IS JUST THE WAY IT IS RIGHT NOW AND EVERYONE HAS TO PAY UP. WE NEED TO START CHANGING FROM THE TOP DOWN SO I HOPE EVERYONE IS VOTING NEXT NOVEMBER FOR CHANGE. HOLLYWOOD FLA IS JUST ANOTHER RESULT OF EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH OUR ECONOMY.

  8. Hopelessly Optimistic says:

    Indeed…I believe we can all agree that we all look forward to the day of retirement. I would like to say a big thanks to the police, firefighters, and city employees for the daily tasks they undertake. However, our city of Hollywood is in need, and so are your coworkers.
    Shame on you guys for jeopardizing your own co-workers’ job for your inability to compromise in a time of crisis. Not to mention, fewer police, more crime…so also endangering the community that you are sworn to protect. I am happy to see that we remain so self-serving in a time a hardship for many. Without these changes, property taxes will increase to where many families will be sent into foreclosure.
    If you feel a REDUCED pension is beyond you…please go find another job. No-one is forcing you to stay.
    On NPR this AM, I heard them report that the police department is going to find it difficult to recruit people. I find this amazing. I am sure in these times they will not be able to find anyone that is willing to make $80,000 a year with healthcare and pension benefits (although reduced). Give me a break.
    I am so excited that the city of Hollywood may now be attacked with a lawsuit from their employees. That is really going to financially benefit the city, and use our already limited resources wisely.
    Only one more comment…. I agree that obviously funds by the city have been mismanaged, and no, it is not fair for the citizens to bear that burden, but we are left without the choice. You can effect change at a local level by voting. These decisions, like this one on 9/13 touches the lives of everyone that resides in Hollywood…I am amazed at the lack of voter turn-out, so next time guys, please VOTE!

  9. 'nuf already says:

    I totally agree with you, Hoplessly. I’ve been struggling to pay my bills for the last couple of years (somehow, they get paid.) I am self-employed and have to pay for my own health insurance, which is now $989.00 a month. I pay my mortgage on time every month, and yes, I pay for my own lunch every day. Sorry, guys, I love police officers and firefighters, but now, you’re just acting like a bunch of spoiled brats! We can’t afford it anymore, period. So if you don’t like it, you are free to look elsewhere.

    1. CAM says:

      ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Bruce Davis says:

    Only 1 out of 20 police applicants are hired due to the extensive screening process. Most of the persons posting could not make the cut as they would fail the psychological exam. Employees contribute close to 10% of their salary toward their pension so it is far from the free ride some claim. Additionally a lot of the pension benefits were obtained by giving up pay raises over the years. Many police officers leave the job before qualifying for a pension due to the stresses of the job. When I worked for Hollywood four of my fellow employees were killed on the job. Another died on Monday after retiring on the previous Friday due to stress related health problems. BTW stress is such a large problem the Stqte of Florida considers police heart attacks a job related injury! How many of these strident posters have similar experiences in their jobs? IMHO those who who deny the stress and difficulty of the job of law enforcement and complain that police officers are not forced to work until 65 yet cry out for help when they need help are simply ignorant jerks.

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