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Baltimore Mayor Seeks Overhaul of City Police and Fire Benefits

Updated: Friday, July 11 2014, 10:43 PM EDT

This year Baltimore City plans to contribute roughly $300 million just to keep its pensions funds solvent. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is proposing another overhaul of the city's police and fire benefits to keep Baltimore's books balanced.

The Mayor wants new public safety employees to move to what's known as a "hybrid" plan, a less expensive pension benefit that is partially guaranteed by the city and partly funded through employee contributes to a standard 401k plan.

It's a transition the Mayor says has to happen to keep the city solvent.

"I want a pension system that is sustainable, that will be there when our dedicated employees retire," Rawlings-Blake said.

But union officials say change may come at a steep price.

"Its hard enough to get qualified applicants now, and not only are we afraid we won't get enough qualified application, but also retention," Baltimore Police Union VP Gene Ryan said.

Critics of the plan are concerned that Baltimore will be at a competitive disadvantage with surrounding jurisdictions, which are sticking with more generous plans.

 "Since the last pension reform, our attrition rate has doubled," Ryan said. "It was right around 15 now its close to 30."

The Mayor's proposal still must get approval of the council.

Baltimore Mayor Seeks Overhaul of City Police and Fire Benefits

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