The 11 members of the Longboat Key Police Department Union are wrestling with choosing one of three retirement options that Town Manager Dave Bullock is giving them until June 28 to decide upon.
Whatever the union chooses is a drastic change from their current retirement option, where officers put 10% of their paychecks into a pension plan the town is set on closing before Oct. 1.
Bullock is offering the union two different pension options with the Florida Retirement System (FRS).
Longboat Key firefighter paramedics took a similar FRS option earlier this year when they agreed to split required FRS contributions 50/50, with the town’s maximum contribution capped at 13%, according to their agreement. The contract also gave firefighters a 3% wage increase.
But with FRS pension costs rising, police officers are afraid to take an FRS option that takes more money out of their paychecks once the town’s cap is reached and officers have to pay for costs above that cap.
That leaves another option that might be looking more appealing for officers.
Bullock has offered since the start of negotiations in March a 401(a) retirement plan offer that includes a 3% pay increase and gives officers another 7% increase in take-home pay.
As part of the proposal, the town will make a 10% contribution for employees even if they choose to put aside none of their salary to the plan. If an employee, though, invests a 3% employee contribution, the town will match that 3%, giving an employee a combined 16% total contribution to the plan.
And if the employee elected to make a 3% contribution to be matched by the town and utilized the additional 7% for an additional unmatched contribution to the plan, than the total percentage towards retirement, including social security, would be 35.4%.
For more information and to read about the officers' debate over which option is best suited for them, pick up a copy of the June 27 Longboat Observer tomorrow.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.