DEFENSE OF 2006 VOTER-APPROVED REFORMS TO THE FIRE AND POLICE DISABILITY, RETIREMENT, AND DEATH BENEFIT PLAN
Binding City Policy
WHEREAS, in November of 2006 Portland voters overwhelmingly approved substantial reforms to both the disability and pension systems of the Fire and Police Disability, Retirement, and Death Benefit Plan (FPD&R); and
WHEREAS, since the 2006 voter-approved reforms ten separate lawsuits, union grievances or unfair labor practices (Legal Challenges) have been filed which threaten to undermine the 2006 voter-approved reforms to the FPD&R system; and
WHEREAS, these Legal Challenges either contest individual disability decisions or decisions of the Board of Trustees implementing rules consistent with the terms of the City of Portland Charter; and
WHEREAS, the voter-approved reforms were referred by the Portland City Council to ensure the future stability of the City’s finances in fairness to future generations of taxpayers in the City; and
WHEREAS, the voter-approved reforms ensured that disability decisions are to be made by qualified independent experts, and not a board made up of beneficiaries of the system; and
WHEREAS, the composition and role of the Board of Trustees was substantially changed in the 2006 voter-approved reforms and instead of an eleven member board with a majority of the board being comprised by beneficiaries of the FPD&R system, there is now a five member board that is no longer made up of a majority beneficiaries, and
WHEREAS, the voter-approved reforms were to designed to ensure greater accountability to the residents of the City of Portland in regards to the FPD&R System, requiring audits of the system by outside independent auditors with expertise in disability system; and
WHEREAS, the voter-approved reforms included an elaborate appeals process which mirrors and exceeds the state workers’ compensation appeals process for members to challenge the decisions that adversely affect them; and
WHEREAS, two of the above mentioned Legal Challenges have been filed by or on behalf of former-fire fighter Thomas Hurley, one of these legal challenges has resulted in an decision by an arbitrator interpreting the firefighters union contract and ordering the City of Portland to pay Mr. Hurley disability benefits he would have received under the FPD&R system; and
WHEREAS, FPD&R terminated Thomas Hurley’s continuing disability benefits because he was no longer disabled, failed to comply with FPD&R procedures, failed to return to work, and he did not avail himself of the voter-approved disability appeals process; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, it is established and shall be policy of the City of Portland to defend the 2006 voter-approved reforms to the Fire and Police Disability, Retirement, and Death Benefit Plan; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, in order to protect the 2006 voter-approved reforms to the Fire and Police Disability, Retirement, and Death Benefit Plan, the City Council authorizes the City Attorney to defend such Legal Challenges without further authorization by the City Council; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City Council directs that the decision of the arbitrator regarding former-firefighter Hurley shall not be implemented in order to move the union’s grievance forward to a court for final determination.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, nothing in this resolution shall prevent the Commissioner-in- Charge of the Police or Fire Bureaus, upon consultation with the City Attorney, from taking action to mitigate damages in these matters.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, this resolution is binding city policy.
Resolution No. 36772, adopted by City Council March 17, 2010.