Detroit Opposes Pension Takeover

March 31, 2010 ( - The Detroit City Council has unanimously voted to oppose state legislation that would turn over management of the city's pension systems to the Municipal Employees' Retirement System.

The Detroit Free Press reports that under the proposed legislation, the general pension fund and the police and fire pension fund would be managed by the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System.Saul Green, deputy mayor and group executive for public safety, said the administration thought state legislation was the best approach to reforming the city’s pension system to keep the city from cutting services and to keep up with its contributions to the pensions.      

“If we don’t get the costs under control, our ability to pay them is in dire, dire jeopardy,” Green said, according to the news report.      

Reginald Turner, an attorney representing both pension systems, cited data that showed MERS did not yield a better return on investments than the current boards. The state legislation “will not solve the city’s budget problems,” Turner said. “There is absolutely no advantage with respect to returns.”      

The council vote came after a heated discussion among the council, Mayor Dave Bing’s administration officials, and representatives from the city’s General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System. Dozens of firefighters and other city workers also spoke against the legislation, the news report said.