Minneapolis Pension Plans Go to State, Ending Legal Battle

January 3, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Minneapolis’ closed police and firefighters’ pension funds have merged into the statewide public safety pension plan.

A judge’s signature on a pension lawsuit settlement resolved the last snarl between the city of Minneapolis and the pension funds which have been closed to new members for 31 years. For the first time in more than five years of fighting the city’s legal claim that they were overpaid, pensioners don’t have to worry about refunding part of their past pensions and know they’ll get a major increase in benefits, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  

The settlement, signed by Hennepin County District Judge Janet Poston, means the city won’t pursue the recovery of benefits, and the two pension associations won’t seek pension increases and one-time payments their members would have been entitled to. The news report said the merger brings an end to a Minneapolis Firefighters Relief Association and the Minneapolis Police Relief Association.   

Pension fund board members could see the high cost of fighting the city’s lawsuit and keeping their septuagenarian and octagenarian pensioners in uncertainty, according to their lawyer-lobbyist Brian Rice, the Star Tribune said. The merger was a high priority for the city because it allowed the city more time to make payments on its unfunded pension liabilities, which would jump by $17 million in 2012.  

The pension merger was approved by lawmakers last summer. 

The plans are the last of four closed city pension plans that have merged into state funds in the past six years. The mergers kept the city’s property levy from increasing in 2012.