City of Springfield Police/Fire Pension Fund Sales Tax Measure, Question 1 (April 2014)

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A City of Springfield Police/Fire Pension Fund Sales Tax Measure, Question 1 ballot question was on the April 8, 2014 election ballot for the voters in the city of Springfield in Greene and Christian counties, Missouri. It was defeated, renewing the sales tax for another five years.

If approved, this measure would have ended a 0.75% sales tax that was approved by voters in 2009 to supplement the pension fund used to provide pension benefits to retired city police and fire personnel. By state law the tax was required to be put to a vote every five years, which was the reason for the April 8 election ballot question on the issue. Moreover the state law required that the ballot question ask voters if the tax should be repealed, which led to the somewhat confusing situation of a "yes" vote causing the tax to be repealed and a "no" vote renewing the tax.[1][2]

In 2009 the pension fund was only 36% funded, meaning only 36% of the fund's liabilities were matched by fund assets. The tax that would be renewed by a "no" vote on this measure provided more than $100 million in revenue to the fund and, as of June 2014, it was 67% funded. According to the city website the pension fund could be fully funded by 2019 since the sales tax was renewed. Going forward, officials have estimated that the tax would provide about $9.7 million per year to the pension fund, money that would have had to come out of the city's general fund if the tax had been repealed.[2][1]

As of March 2014, there were 900 city employees participating in the pension fund system in question. Five hundred had retired and four hundred remained active. No new employees were being added to this pension fund system because, in 2006, the city moved all future new hires to a new pension system called L.A.G.E.R.S, leaving the old pension system to expire.[3]

Election results

Springfield Question 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No8,25876.20%
Yes 2,579 23.80%
Election result from Greene County elections office

Text of measure

Ballot question

The official ballot question for this measure:

Shall the City of Springfield, Missouri, repeal the pension sales tax imposed at the rate of three-quarter of one percent (¾-cent) for the sole purpose of providing revenues for the Springfield Police and Firefighters Pension System, with said tax to sunset upon the earlier of A) five (5) years from the date of the commencement of collection of the renewed pension sales tax, or B) the Pension System fund reaching a fully-funded (100%) status as determined by an independent actuarial study conducted for the Pension System Board of Trustees?

(Note: A "Yes" vote ends this tax and a "No" vote continues this tax.)[2][4]

IAFFpensiontaxlogo.jpg

Opposition

Note: Those in favor of the tax were advocating a "no" vote on this measure in order to allow the tax to continue.

Opponents

The city and proponents of the sales tax in support of the pension fund adopted the slogan "Are we there yet? NO!" to highlight that a "no" vote was required to renew the tax and that, while the pension fund had made steps toward being fully funded, it was not there yet.

  • The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted to support renewal of the tax, advocating a "no" vote on this measure.[1]
  • The International Association of Fire Fighers (IAFF), Local 152, was advocating a "no" vote.[5]
  • The Make Springfield Safe committee was filed to support the three quarters percent sales tax and oppose this measure.[1]

Arguments against

Those who support the renewal of the tax and a "no" vote on this measure argued that without the tax the city would have still remained obligated to fulfill its promises to retired public safety officers and would have needed to pull $9.7 million from the city's general fund to provided for pension needs, requiring a reduction in other city services.[3]

Springfield Fire Chief David Hall said, "So we are getting there, the tax has been an integral part of that but there's still a ways to go. Still we have 25 percent of the liabilities are still unfunded. About $9.7 million this next year we would have to pay into the plan from general fund so we'd have to cut the general fund expenses by that amount so we can make it into the pension."[3]

Rob Dixon, executive vice president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “The main thing is that the shortfall in the pension fund is still a critical issue that we have to resolve."[1]

The IAFF pointed out that while the pension fund had gone from 37 percent funding to 67 percent funding, because the pension fund was closed, meaning no new employees were entering and paying into the system, the fund needed to be 100 percent funded to be sustainable.[6]

Similar measures

Related measures

Approveda Springfield Sales Tax Measure, 2009

See also

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