Is Portland paying more for retired cops than current ones?
A frustrated reader asked us a while back whether the City of Portland was paying more to retired police officers and firefighters than it was to those currently on the police and fire forces. We've finally gotten around to looking at that question, and the answer appears to be no -- not yet.
According to this document -- a disclosure the city made when it took out a huge short-term loan to pay police and fire pension benefits this past summer -- the city was expecting that its police and fire pension fund was going to spend $107.4 million in the year ending June 30, 2011. Of that amount, about $4 million is being put aside for the pensions of recently hired police and firefighters, who are now covered by the state pension system; that leaves $103.4 million being spent currently on benefits to retired and disabled officers under the city's reckless pay-as-you-go system.
Who is in that retiree group? According to the city's administrative rules, only permanent sworn officers are members of the pension fund:
(A) Those sworn permanent employees of the Bureau of Fire and Rescue having the job classifications of Fire Fighter, Fire Fighter Specialist, Fire Fighter Communications, Fire Lieutenant, Fire Training Officer, Staff Fire Lieutenant, Fire Captain, Fire Training Captain, Fire Battalion Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Division Fire Chief, City Fire Chief, Fire Inspector I, Fire Inspector II, Fire Inspector I Specialist, Staff Fire Captain, Fire Lieutenant Communications, Harbor Pilot, Assistant Fire Marshal, Assistant Public Education Officer and EMS Coordinator;How much is the city spending in current salaries to officers in those categories, presently on the force, this year? Here are some figures that we pulled out of the current year's budget. When in doubt as to whether a position was covered by the pension plan, such as when the title didn't exactly match up to the one on the official list just quoted, we included it:
(B) Those permanent sworn employees of the Bureau of Police having the job classifications of Police Officer, Police Sergeant, Police Detective, Criminalist, Police Lieutenant, Police Captain, Police Commander, Deputy Police Chief, Assistant Police Chief, and Police Chief.
|EMS Program Manager||1||$ 92,724||Fire Battalion Chief||13||1,507,812|
|Staff Fire Battalion Chief||2||246,744|
|Staff Fire Captain||4||416,136|
|Deputy Fire Chief||5||662,230|
|Fire Division Chief||2||287,302||Fire Fighter||442||32,214,648|
|Fire Fighter Specialist||8||612,276|
|Sr. Fire Inspector||6||573,240|
|Staff Fire Lieutenant||7||651,383|
|Assistant Fire Marshal||2||244,296|
|Fire Training Officer||4||355,159|
|Assistant Public Education Officer||1||84,204|
|Title||Number||Budgeted salaries||Police Captain||10||$ 1,199,164|
|Assistant Police Chief||3||447,652|
If you add up all those salaries, you get a grand total of around $118.7 million -- and that's not including overtime, I don't think. Overtime probably tacks another $25 million to $30 million onto those base salary figures. And so no, Virginia, Portland's not spending more on retired police and firefighters than on current ones. The ratio's something like 3-to-2 current-to-retired. But the day when the retirees catch up and get ahead may not be too far off.