DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas lawmakers have given the first green light needed to save the struggling Dallas Police & Fire Pension Fund. A state House committee unanimously approved a bill designed to help the troubled pension fund. It now heads to the full House for a vote.
But other funding options are still on the table.
The pension board met in Dallas on Thursday to discuss those options, including one that pulls Dallas Area Rapid Transit into the continuing debate. One funding proposal, which was approved by the board, takes sales tax money that is meant for DART and funnels it toward the pension fund.
Dallas City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates called the DART proposal “political grandstanding” in an election year, and added that there were still several hurdles that the resolution would have to get past despite support from the board. “It’s potentially going to fail. It’s pretty muddy,” she said. “It could potentially be 14 years before money could come out.”
The plan takes one eighth of a penny that is earmarked for DART services and puts it into the pension fund. DART officials are critical of the proposal, saying that it could negatively impact its riders by forcing some existing routes to change or shut down entirely.
Distribution amounts regarding DROP accounts were also on the Thursday agenda. The pension board determined that there was not enough money on hand for extra withdrawals. This essentially means that no withdrawals, other than those required, will be paid out this month.
Meanwhile, the bill approved by a state House committee would see the city contributing an extra $11 million each year to the pension fund. That bill will go to the full House for debate at the end of the month. The pension fund is about $6 billion short on future obligations.