Trumbull Finance Board Votes To Fund Benefits Study

Trumbull Finance Board Votes To Fund Benefits Study

Trumbull — The City Council could take a step forward in revising retirement benefits for employees, including police officers, as the Finance Committee voted earlier this month to appropriate $40,000 for a retired consultant.

However, the grants still have to be approved by the city council, which meets Jan. 5.

According to a letter from Human Resources Director Thomas McCarthy to Chief Financial Officer Lani McHugh, the advisor "will review current and potential future changes to employee pension benefits and make recommendations on potential plan changes, costs and risks."

About eight years ago, the city changed its pension plan from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a defined benefit plan promises defined monthly benefits for retirement. The required benefits can be a specific dollar amount or calculated using a formula that takes into account factors such as salary and employment.

A defined contribution system is not a defined retirement benefit. In these plans, the employee, the employer, or both contribute to the employee's individual account, depending on the plan.

This created a particular problem for the city's police department, as it granted many officers leave to work in departments with fixed pay plans. According to Chief of Police Michael Lombardo, this helped solve the department's ongoing staffing and maintenance problem.

The department has 14 officers, which requires Lombardo to transfer some officers to special assignments, including two city school officers, to patrol.

"We continue to ask people to work double shifts regularly and do our best to provide the required level of service," he said.

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In his letter, McCarthy said USI Consulting Group, which was chosen to conduct the pension benefits review, quoted from the city $29,000 for the initial services. However, the board asked for $40,000 "to allow the business to continue."

At the meeting of the Finance Committee held on December 8, when the award was accepted, this matter was discussed at length in the meeting of the Board of Directors. When the board returned for its opening session, member Scott Zimov asked if changing the retirement plan was the best way to solve the problems facing the police department.

"(We're) apparently on a 'no pension, no pension' path, and that's how we keep people, and there are a lot of ways to keep people other than pensions or annuities," he said. He said

Zimov said he's heard of other communities using tactics like flexible hours to reduce pressure on police and improve enforcement. But McHugh said determining the best way to restrain the officers was not the purpose of the investigation.

"I think the analysis is to see if it is financially feasible for the municipality (to change the pension plan), not whether it is the best idea," he said.

The board ultimately voted 5-1 to award the money.

The next step will be the city council, and Lombardo said he hopes to go down the fiscal council path.

"I hope funding for the study will finally be approved and start soon," he said.

Education Board Meeting 03 23 21:

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