As part of DPROA’s ongoing effort to keep our pension fight at the forefront and to safeguard our benefits, DPROA President David Elliston is periodically sending informational emails to the Mayor and Dallas City Council members to highlight our concerns and provide information regarding the health of the pension system and its performance. Below are the first two emails that were sent.
OCTOBER 24, 2022 EMAIL–LETTER #1
My name is David Elliston and I am the President of the Dallas Police Retired Officers Association (DPROA). I retired from the Dallas Police Department in 2010 as a Deputy Chief of Police, ending my career of nearly 39 years. In 2016, when word of the impending Police & Fire Pension crisis began to surface in the local news media, I and fellow retirees first turned to the trusted associations that had so faithfully represented us throughout our careers. It was not long before we realized that our best interests were no longer aligned with those of the active police and fire associations. Retirees would have to organize our own representative association in order to have a voice.
On December 22, 2016, the Dallas Police Retired Officers Association was formed and held its first meeting in the offices of the Dallas Police Association. The stated purpose of our organization is to be a legitimate and proactive voice to advocate for the interests of retired Dallas Police Officers. While organizing, a number of retired Dallas firefighters approached us about joining our association. It was decided to allow firefighters to join as “Associate” members. Today our combined membership counts a little over one thousand members. It is important to note that while we sometimes have differing perspectives and ideas on specific issues, in general we continue to support the Dallas Police Association and the Dallas Firefighters Association. We have walked in their shoes and respect them for assuming the duties we can no longer perform.
As you are aware the Dallas Police & Fire Pension System (DPFPS) is severely underfunded. At last report DPFPS was only 38% funded. DPFPS Executive Director Kelly Gottschalk reported that “On December 31, 2020, there were 10,457 members and beneficiaries in the Combined Pension Plan.” Since our members did not pay into Social Security, they are totally dependent on their city pension in their retirement years. These are men and women who worked most of their adult lives serving the citizens of Dallas, many times exposing themselves to risk of serious bodily injury or death.
I know you are very busy and therefore I will not write a long narrative. Instead, I will periodically send you information about the health of the system and its performance. I hope you will find this information helpful as we work together to restore the plan to solid financial footing. Thank you for your service to the City of Dallas and have a great day.
NOVEMBER 4, 2022 EMAIL–LETTER #2
This is the second installment of our campaign to inform you, the policy makers of our great city, of the history and status of the Dallas Police & Fire Pension System. As I previously reported there are over ten thousand members and their beneficiaries dependent upon the system for their livelihood. Since the City didn’t pay into Social Security during Retiree’s decades of service they were unable to earn any benefits.
On June 17, 2017, Executive Director Kelly Gottschalk in an email to DP&FP Retirees reported that “Approximately 80% of the solution is coming from our members…” So, what did HB 3158 change? Today’s message will focus on just two of the changes. Retirees lost their “Annual Adjustment” and “Supplemental Benefit.” Prior to HB3158, when members retired they qualified for an Annual Adjustment (not a COLA) of a simple 4% of their monthly base pension. This amount was automatic and never changed. For example, if your base pension was $2000.00 a month, your Annual Adjustment was $80.00 a month to be paid each October 1st. In addition, once members retired and reached age 55 they became eligible for a “Supplemental Benefit.” This benefit was 3% of the base benefit or $75 per month whichever was greater. While Annual Adjustments and Supplemental Benefits already paid to retirees were not retracted, HB 3158 replaced the Annual Adjustment with an ad hoc COLA, only to be paid once the plan reaches 70% funding. The most recently published Annual Comprehensive Financial Report predicts a 2.00% COLA beginning October 1, 2063. That amounts to 46 years without any adjustment to keep up with inflation. Let’s assume most retirees work until age 60 before retiring, they would be 106 before they got a raise. That’s assuming the pension meets its investment goals and the City meets their hiring goals.
Next time I will address the “DROP” Deferred Retirement Option Plan. Thank you for all you do.