Flint, Retiree Group Headed to Court over Pension Battle

November 21, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A retiree group has taken the city of Flint, Michigan to court in an effort to force city officials to pay a 5% yearly "bonus" to its pensioners.

The United Retired Governmental Employees Local 1 and several individual retirees filed the suit in Genesee County Circuit Court, according to a Flint Journal news story.

Flint officials say they didn’t make the extra payment to more than 1,500 retirees because the city pension fund earnings fell below a threshold set by a city ordinance, the newspaper said.

But the retirees argue that the same ordinance still calls for a 5% payment to workers who retired before the current city charter took effect in 1975. According to the Journal story, there are 24 so-called charter retirees who get at least $7,000 in pension payments, a 2% annual pension adjustment and the bonus checks.

Flint financial manager Ed Kurtz told the Journal that he empathizes with the charter retirees’ plight, but that the city interprets the ordinance differently. Kurtz said he hopes to settle the dispute outside of the courtroom.

City officials said the bonus can only be awarded when there is a surplus in the general fund and is calculated based on the 13th pension check to other retirees. The city also has an estimated $28-million general fund deficit.