Council approves police and fire pension plan [Great Bend Tribune, Kan.] – InsuranceNewsNet

May 17—Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance:

Here is a quick overview of what Great Bend City Council Monday night:

—Approved the sale of the remaining lots in the Amber Meadows Rural Housing Incentive District for Keller Immobilier and Insurance Agency Inc.

They had requested the purchase of lots 2261, 2320 and 2321 on Prairie Rose Drive under the same conditions as those used in previous sales.

—Approved the purchase of a Great Bend Police Department vehicle of the Kansas Highway Patrol for $28,450.

The department planned a new K-9 vehicle this year, but due to a tight order window, that didn’t happen, the police chief said. Steve Haulmark.

However, they found a used vehicle available from KHP which was only used by one person, he said. This would become the practice/backup vehicle, with the current vehicle used for this purpose being used for the K9.

—Approved the 401a with-profits retirement plan for public safety personnel.

—Approved the continuation of the new police department building as planned, despite the report that it could go over budget by around a $1 million.

—Heard a report from the city administrator Francois Kendal. He focused on the state’s Ax the Food Tax bill that was signed into law and the Quality of Life Committee’s public inquiry.

—Approved a grain malt beverage license requested by Greg King with the Sunflower Sanctuary Club for the beer garden during June Jaunt June 4 in Jack Kilby Square.

—Approved a pruner’s license for charlie robertRoberts Tree Service, of Larned.

—Approved abatements for waste and garbage violations at: 2534 Lakin Ave., McCord Property Management. LLC. ; and 1017 Odell Street, Bert Jr. and Ida Marie Luse Revocable Trust.

—Approved abatements for faulty weather protection violations at 1423 2lst., McCord Property Mgt. LLC.

—Abatements approved for nuisance from motor vehicles at: 1114 Holland Street, Stanley and Kreigh; 1318 Frey St., Petra and Jose Aldredo Garcia; 1213 4th St., Hebert Zuniga; 2811 21st Street, Anthony Robinson; and 1311 Holland St., Marina Chavez.

Following the recommendation of a committee of the mayor, the Great Bend City Council On Monday evening, the city’s long-awaited benefit-sharing plan for uniformed first responders was approved. A special sales tax approved by voters last November is funding the plan which came in response to complaints from emergency personnel about their retirement options.

However, the approval was not unanimous: the members of the Council Lindsey Krom Craven of district 1, Kevin Soupiset of district 2, Cory Urban of district 3, Davis Jimenez of district 3 and Brock McPherson from Ward 4 voted for; and Alan Moeder of district 1, Jolene Biggs of district 2 and Cities of Natalie of Ward 4 voted against.

First, city administrator Francois Kendal explained to the board the details of the plan agreed upon by the committee members:

—Quarterly, the funds received will be divided by the total base salaries to determine a percentage. Then each employee will receive this percentage of their base salary, divided equally by pay period.

— Only uniformed police and firefighters would be eligible. Civilian positions within the two departments will not be included.

—The city will provide long-term disability insurance through Hartford. Cancer and Critical Illness coverage will not be provided.

—Employees become fully vested after 10 years. The current system is five.

—If an employee becomes permanently disabled, whether work-related or not, the employee automatically becomes 100% vested.

—There are leadership positions for which the city could hire employees knowing they are unlikely to stay long term (such as the Chief of Police Steve Haulmark and deputy fire chief Brent Smith), knowing that they bring their experience and leadership here. As a recruitment tool, the positions of Chief of Police, Captain of Police, Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief will be fully vested on their date of hire.

—Employees become eligible for profit-sharing from the 1st day of the new quarter following their hiring.

—The contribution rate for uniformed police and firefighters will increase from the current 4.5% to 7.15%. This reflects the rate they would have contributed if the city had joined KP&F, the Kansas Police and fire plan offered through the Kansas Public Employment Retirement System.

—The employer’s contribution rate will increase from 9.5% to 8.5%, to match the contribution rate of all other employees.

—All profit-sharing funds of an employee who leaves employment prior to vesting will be returned to the plan’s forfeiture fund. These funds will then be redistributed in equal shares to employees once a year.

—The new 401(k) Incentive Plan will begin October 1st.

—Long-term disability coverage begins January 1, 2023.

—Amendments to the existing 401(k) defined contribution plan come into effect with the February 24, 2023pay.

Some disagreements

“I have a few objections,” Councilwoman Towns said.

First, she saw the employee contribution requirement as potentially a hardship for staff members, especially as the cost of living continues to rise.

Second, “we already treat them differently,” she said. She appreciates their service and realizes the jobs are dangerous, but said “we may be going too far”.

The cities felt that there should be a cap on the city contribution percentage and that it should be kept closer to that of other city staff.

“The citizens of big bend voted for it and we have to honor that,” Councilor Moeder said. But, “I think we need to back off a bit.

Although only 2,000 residents voted in favour, everyone had a chance, he said.

“It’s not final,” said the mayor Cody Schmidt mentioned. The board can always come back and reconsider the matter.

Francis said committee members, which included police and firefighters, approved the plan.

Schmidt appointed the committee on March 7 to expand on the details of the specific plan.

The committee included: Schmidt; Council members Alan Moeder, Cory Urban and Kevin Soupiset; Municipal administrator Francois Kendal; City Clerk Shawna Schaffer; Human Resources Director Randy Keasling; The Chief of Police Steve Haulmark; GBPD Sgt. Ryan DeYoung; GBPD Officer Christian Rivas; fire chief Luke McCormick; firefighter Chad Burroughs; and GBPD Cpt. Matt Peterson.

Background

In March, the council rejected two options to bolster pensions for uniformed first responders, as council members feared both would not be viable using sales tax alone and could result in property tax hikes. Instead, they opted to use sales tax money to create an internal profit-sharing plan for firefighters and police officers.

The tax is 0.20% and there is no sunset. The estimated turnover amounts to $755,504 per year.

On the table, three options. These included: Switch to Kansas Police and fire through the Kansas Public Employment Retirement System; increase the current Mission Square defined contribution plan; or create the new Mission Square incentive scheme.

Until the change, the city offered a 401K retirement plan for all employees, including police officers and firefighters, through Mission Square since the city is not part of KPERS.

Now the ununiformed staff members of the Police and fire departmentsalong with all other city staff, remain on the original city plan.

The KP&F has been passionately endorsed by emergency personnel. They said it would make departments more competitive and help eliminate the rapid turnover that plagues both. It would also offer a guaranteed pension to retirees, which is not provided for by Mission Square.

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