FORT WORTH (CBSDFW) – It’s a projected $2 billion pension shortfall affecting thousands of city workers.
The City of Fort Worth projects its retirement plan will run out of money in coming years. The problem is so massive it’s affecting the city’s credit rating and could even impact how effectively the city can fund big infrastructure projects in the future.
City documents show Fort Worth will soon have more people retired and drawing money out of the plan than contributing to it. Added to that, the city isn’t receiving the amount of interest it thought it would on money already in the pension plan.
It now has a research firm trying to find ways to dig out of the projected shortfall.
“Everything is on the table,” said Director of Human Resources, Brian Dickerson.
Planters say long term the city is facing a $2 billion shortfall. Think of the looming number as like trying to pay off your mortgage but not having enough for the full payment every month.
“We are paying on the interest and we’re not paying enough on the principal to have it paid off in 30 or 40 years,” Dickerson said. “We have to fix that.”
The looming problem is considered so severe by rating firm Moody’s it has lowered the city’s credit rating two years in a row.
“In addition to that, they have put it on basically a negative outlook going forward until we can address some of the ongoing pension issues,” said Fort Worth Chief Financial Officer, Arron Bovos.
Long term that means when the city wants to take out bonds for things such as major road projects or infrastructure it could be more difficult and more costly.
“So anybody who has a higher credit rating conceivably is a lower risk credit and pays lower interest. Anybody that has a lower credit rating has a higher risk and pays higher interest,” Bovos said.
A consultant is putting together a list of possible ways to make the pension viable for the long-haul. But city planners are confident that if they act quickly the problem can be reigned in.
“I think employees have been patient,” Dickerson said. “And I think they’re waiting to see what the recommendations are actually going to be.”
A state review board has asked to see a plan of action from the city in March of 2018.