DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has asked the Texas Rangers to investigate past members of the Dallas Police & Fire Pension System administration. He released a written statement on the matter Friday morning, just a day after the pension board reinstated some monthly DROP account withdrawals.
It was only a few weeks ago that all Deferred Retirement Option Plan accounts were frozen, under pressure from city officials who worried that the accounts were causing the pension fund to fail.
The DROP accounts have high fixed interest rates. Back in the 1990s, the city and pension board agreed to give police officers and firefighters the option to put money into these accounts. But many retirees have moved to pull money out of their DROP accounts, further jeopardizing the already fading pension fund.
In response, the pension board put a freeze on all DROP accounts. A number of retired police officers and firefighters believed that the decision was unfair. During an emergency meeting on Thursday, the board reinstated monthly withdrawals, but said that lump sum withdrawals were still not allowed.
Retired police officer Joe Dunn relies on the monthly withdrawals for about 60 percent of his income, but he still believes that the pension board should do more. “I’m happy with the vote,” Dunn said, “but we should be able to get [our money] whether it is lump sum, we want it monthly or whatever we want.”
Retired police officer Dale Erves still cannot access his money, because he would withdraw lump sums instead of a scheduled monthly withdrawal. “We had trust in you all that you had our back, but you failed us,” Erves told board members during the meeting on Thursday.
If no changes are made to the pension fund system, the $2.39 billion fund is projected to run out of money by 2028.
Mayor Mike Rawlings put out a video on Wednesday explaining his plan to save the pension fund, but it was not received very well by many at the Thursday meeting. In his Friday morning statement, Rawlings said, “The past administration of the Dallas Police & Fire Pension System committed a grave breach of trust with our first responders with serious ramifications impacting current and former police and fire personnel and their families, as well as all Dallas taxpayers.”
Along with calling for a Texas Rangers investigation, Rawlings stated Friday, “I have been in close cooperation with the FBI on this matter. Anyone brazen enough to commit crimes that harmed those who sacrifice so much to keep our city safe must be brought to justice.”