Dallas Morning News
September 27, 2018
The Employees’ Retirement Fund of the City of Dallas (ERF) has won a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against Dallas’ Interim City Attorney who is trying to oust two duly elected board members with threats and intimidation. At issue is whether the city attorney is attempting to impose term limits on the ERF board without going through the three-step process historically utilized, and legally required, to make changes to the plan.
The ERF board has avoided problems that have plagued the city’s Police and Fire Pension Plan. The $3.6 billion ERF is 82 percent funded, has posted solid returns, 13.3% in 2017, and won overwhelming approval for modification of benefits for future employees to further strengthen the plan in 2016.
“There is a process in place that al lowed up to a 120-member nominating committee of city employees to select civilian employees to serve on the board and all employees can vote on these nominees,” said Cheryl Alston, ERF Executive Director.”
“The ERF’s position is that the board is governed by Section 40A-35(1) of the Dallas City Code which requires a proposal initiated by either the board or city council that results in an ordinance approved by the board, adopted by the city council, and approved by most of the voters voting at a general or special election,” said John Jenkins, ERF board chair and one of the employees the city attorney is trying to remove from once. This process was utilized as late as 2016 to amend the plan.
“ The ERF staff and board have made numerous attempts to work with the city attorney’s once on this issue and now ask the courts to intervene to al low us to follow what we believe is the governing ordinance concerning this issue,” said Jenkins. “Our employees have asked myself and Tina Richardson to continue our service on the board through an open democratic process and we are willing to continue to serve. “While we wish this could have been worked out with the city attorney’s once, today’s action was necessary to resolve this legal issue and get back to work to carry out the fund’s mission.
If the city wants to impose term limits the board believes the city should follow the three-step process outlined in Section 40A as required by law,” added Jenkins. “In the meantime, we require a fully constituted board of seven to make the important financial decisions that come before us on a regular basis. These are potentially volatile financial times and we need to be able to move forward with assurance.”
Threats by the interim city attorney to Jenkins and Richardson included that they would face lawsuits as individuals and would be without insurance protection. “We have a responsibility as board members to continue to manage the fund responsibly for the benefit of taxpayers, employees and retirees,” said Jenkins. “We are grateful for the confidence that our fellow employees placed in us when we were elected.”
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