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Grand Island City Council makes final decision on “Pension-gate”
Finally, Grand Island City Council came to an agreement Thursday night over the ongoing police pension problem. A nearly seven hour long study session ended without a solution on Tuesday night.
Would Thursday night be the same story?
Council member Chuck Haase discovered the mistake back in November.
An unapproved change in 2005 from calculating police pensions based on a single life annuity to a joint life annuity has left the pension reserve empty.
"And as you all know that resulted in a greater monetary contribution from the city to fund those benefits," said Bob Sivick, Grand Island City Attorney.
Nearly two months of discussion and deliberation came to a resolve Thursday night.
"Grave mistakes have been made by the city and hopefully we're going to straighten those out," said Linna Dee Donaldson, Grand Island City Council.
It took just 38 minutes for City Council to make a decision on two major issues.
The first, will the city seek reimbursement from the over compensated officers?
"Going after those people that hopefully are really having a great time over the last few years with those dollars and the plans they have for those. It wouldn't make sense to go after that and because of that, in treating everyone fairly and the same it doesn't make sense to try to adjust Mr. Cole's at this time as well," said Mitch Nickerson, Grand Island City Council.
The council agreed with council member Nickerson. They voted unanimously to forgive the over payments.
But, how will the remaining pre-1984 officers get their pensions?
"Any benefits calculated on a joint life annuity basis were incorrect and illegal," said Sivick.
The 2005 change was never approved by city council.
Council member Scott Dugan cited state law to help make his decision.
"Shall be. Those two words are in state law... So, that's why I have to support the single life," said Scott Dugan, Grand Island City Council.
Again, the council voted unanimously to pay the remaining pensions on a straight life annuity.
"This resolution allows us to get back on course and stay where we wanted to be all along," said Nickerson.
The police pension reserve is basically zeroed out at this time.
The city council will have to decide where to get the necessary funds from in an upcoming meeting.
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