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Fire department asks council for pension increase

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News Worthington, 56187
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Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington City Council took no action but listened to separate presentations Wednesday morning during a special meeting.

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The first presentation was in relation to the firefighter relief association. Pat Shorter, from the Worthington Fire Department, was on hand to ask for an increase in the pension plan.

"Amongst the association members, it seems to be the consensus that nobody wants to have a raise per call," Shorter said. "We're more interested in staying in the retirement side. That's the reason for this approach."

The last increase in the firefighters' pension plan was in 2007. Currently, there is a $15,000 deficit in the fund.

"What the state auditor requires is that number is divided by 20 years," Shorter explained. "That's how you guys have to kick in the balance to make it solvent."

Currently, the retiring firefighters take a lump sum. The option for a monthly payout was ceased years ago. There are a few remaining from previous firefighters.

"With the lump sum, you get $2,725 per year of service," Shorter said. That equates to $54,500 for 20 years of service.

Shorter offered two scenarios, the first being a .9 percent increase per year, or 4.5 percent over five years. That would offer a total increase of $2,452.50 for 20 years of service, or $122.63 per year of service, and bring the total for 20 years of service to roughly $57,000. The other was a .5 percent annual increase, or 2.5 percent over five years, which would be $1,362.50 total or $68.13 per year of service.

"We would not increase it per year -- it would be one time," Shorter said. "We want to get something so, every so many years, we look at the cost of living or some kind of adjustment.

"We're at a loss at what we should do or what we can do," he continued. "We don't want to badger you guys all the time."

The council took no action, but agreed to have it as an item on a future council meeting agenda.

Discussion also took place about the potential to reviewing the increase on a yearly basis.

"We're having this special meeting as more of an FYI, but I don't think after this if we are going to review it on an annualized basis, that it couldn't be done at a council meeting," Mayor Alan Oberloh said.

The council also had a teleconference with Dr. Amos Deinard in regard to his oral health project. He explained he is hoping to work within Worthington to help youth prevent dental issues.

Deinard said that even having a simple, inexpensive fluoride varnish would help prevent many cavities in youth. He especially wants to target at-risk youths.

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