DALLAS (CBS11) – Some Dallas Council members are criticizing a vote Thursday by the Police and Fire Pension Fund board to give more than $800,000 in lump sum payments to the fund’s top three executives.
The decision comes eight days after Governor Greg Abbott signed into law the bill that rescues the fund from going broke within ten years.
Board members who approved the measure said it would protect the executives if they are fired by the new board that arrives in September.
All four Dallas City Council members who sit on the pension fund board voted against this.
Under the provision, as long as Executive Director Kelly Gottschalk is still on the job August 31, she will receive a lump sum payment of $310,000, which is her annual salary.
Two other executives here will receive $250,000 each as long as they’re still working at the fund August 31.
They all will receive the payments whether they are fired or whether the newly selected board in September allows them to stay in their jobs.
Gottschalk said the board approved the payments in February, and that this vote ensured that the money is in the current budget.
She said because she and the other executives led the fund through very tough negotiations with the City of Dallas over the rescue plan, she believes she will be tossed out by the new board arriving in less than three months. “It’s very likely because I fought the city very, very hard through this process and the city will control the board. I don’t know what will happen.”
Most board members supported the payments, and board member Brian Hass said he agrees with Gottschalk.
“At 25 years with the City of Dallas, the city has proven to me the fact the only way you can resolve a situation is by litigation… We felt for sure they would lose their positions with the coming board,” said Hass.
But council member Philip Kingston, who sits on the pension fund board disagreed. “It is not responsible to terminate a good Executive Director or CEO over some sort of hard feelings over a negotiation. I don’t see how someone could vote for that.”
Another council member and pension board member, Scott Griggs said he strongly opposes the payments. “The idea when these payments came up several months ago, I opposed it as outrageous and excessive. And I still feel that way. That is a large bonus.”
Under the rescue plan outlined in the new law signed by Governor Abbott, police and firefighters will see their benefits decline, yet active members will have to pay more into the system.
Six of the new board members will be selected by Mayor Mike Rawlings after he consults with city council.
The police and firefighters will choose the remaining five members.