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Pension Fund

Retirement board sees long-term gain for funded status

Houston voters in Tuesday's election approved a proposal to pay firefighters what police officers of comparable rank and seniority make. The Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund Board had endorsed the measure saying better compensation would improve its funding levels long term.

Nearly 3 in 5 voters (59%) voted in favor of Proposition B, putting an end to months of debate among Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, City Council members and firefighters.

With the passage of Proposition B, Houston firefighters will be compensated "in a manner and amount that is at least equal and comparable by rank and seniority with the compensation provided by city police officers," according to the ballot measure voters approved.

The $4.5 billion Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund cheered the vote, saying it will boost benefits for firefighters over the long term.

"It will delay by two years benefit cuts that will likely be required under pension reform legislation passed in 2017," Brett Besselman, chairman of the Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund Board, said in a prepared statement. With an increase in firefighter salaries, the pension fund projects an improvement to its funding level in 30 years to 85% from 83%.

The fund's projections assume headcount remains the same and there is a payroll increase, the statement said.