Mayor Proposes Taking Fire Ax to Firemen's Pension

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Slay: Blowing the whistle and prepared to make the cuts.
  • Slay: Blowing the whistle and prepared to make the cuts.
Mayor Francis Slay's office this morning outlined its plan to curtail run-away costs within the St. Louis Fire Department.

According to the mayor's office, the budget for the fire department has increased 40 percent over the past decade thanks largely in part to the firefighter's generous pension system that allows firemen to retire with partial pensions at age 38 and retire with full pensions by the time they're 48 years old.

The plan unveiled today would -- among other things -- increase from 20 to 25 the years a firefighter must work for the department before receiving full pension and set the minimum age a firefighter can receive full pension at 55.

"We want firefighters to be paid well and treated fairly because they do a dangerous job," said the mayor's chief of staff, Jeff Rainford in a statement. "But, taxpayers should not be treated like ATMs."

The mayor's office notes that firefighter pay, health care, and pension costs have gone up by 73 percent over the past ten years, and that for every dollar taxpayers spend for a firefighter's salary, taxpayers pay another 82 cents for firefighter benefits. In 2008 and 2009 the firefighter's state-created pension lost $170 million in investments that had to be made up by taxpayers.

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