Information for Firefighters in Group V (Combination of Blue and Orange Service)
All Firefighters (both Groups V and VI) will contribute an additional 3.8% toward the pension solution. This increase will be phased: Beginning with the July 20, 2019, pay period, their contribution will increase by 1.8%, and beginning with Pay Period 1 of 2020, it will increase by an additional 2%.
COLA (Cost of Living Benefit) changes
The current structure of the COLA has been completely preserved for all Firefighters in Group V who retire, who retire early with a penalty, or who enter DROP by Jan. 1, 2021. These firefighters will receive either 1) an ad-hoc COLA, or 2) a simple 2% COLA for their years of Blue Service and Orange Service earned before July 20, 2019, depending on their previous individual choice.
COLAs have been eliminated for Group V's future service, beginning July 20, 2019. This means that firefighters with Blue Service will not receive a COLA for their future service after this cut-off.
Firefighters with a combination of Blue Service and Orange Service who do not retire or enter DROP by Jan. 1, 2021, will see their COLA for the service earned before July 20, 2019, become a variable COLA, based on the health of the fund. Current projections indicate that this variable COLA will not be awarded in the foreseeable future.
Any unused sick leave earned after July 20, 2019, will not convert to service credit upon retirement. However, all unused sick leave balances earned prior to July 20, 2019, will continue to convert to service credit.
Risk sharing mechanism
If the health of the pension is not restored by changes to the benefit and contribution increases, a risk sharing mechanism will kick in during 2022. If that happens, Firefighters in Groups V and VI will contribute an additional 1.6%, with the increase limited to 0.8% in any one year. Any further changes would require city council adoption and potentially another council vote.
Overtime contribution and DROP increase
The city has always made contributions to the fund for all overtime earned by Firefighters with Blue/Orange Service (Group V), but previously did not make contributions on overtime earned by Firefighters with Orange Service only (Group VI). Also, with the exception of built-in overtime, Firefighters previously did not make contributions to the pension fund for overtime earned.
Effective July 20, 2019, all Firefighters will make contributions on all overtime earned, including members with Orange Service only (Group VI).
Additionally, the DROP period will increase from five to six years, effective July 20, 2019.