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Joplin's Police and Firefighter Pension Plan Could Have Less Cit - KOAM TV 7

Joplin's Police and Firefighter Pension Plan Could Have Less City Hall Involvement

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Joplin, MO -

Changes could be coming to how Joplin police and firefighter retirement plans are administered.  The idea was officially proposed during a Pension Board meeting today.

The administrator's role in this pension board is to provide strategic decisions for retirement plans, also to advise the board on upcoming deadlines.  But there's a concern Joplin's pension administrator is biased.

The ones who wear police and firefighter badges now want to ensure their retirements hold up later.

"We're here to make sure the plan is taken care of and that it's going to be there for these guys who are doing dangerous things every day on the streets," says John Alford, a Pension Board member and Joplin firefighter.

Right now, many members of the Pension Board say...

"It's the perception that the pension plan is being attacked," says Alford.

Members of the Pension Board say they were surprised to learn that the city's finance director, Leslie Haase, who's also the Pension Board's current administrator, wants less money to go towards police and firefighter retirement plans.

"Our pension plan is a conservative plan," says Alford.  "We're in the middle of the road.  It's not extravagant, it's not too poor.  Our current plan allows us to retire with dignity.  Any cuts or changes would be detrimental to the fire department."

Many firefighter Pension Board members want Haase removed and an independent administrator hired.  They say an independent administrator would make decisions based on what's best for retirement plans, not off politics at city hall.  

Two police Pension Board members appear to be hesitant about this idea.

"The concern I have with a third party administrator is additional costs," says Larry Swinehart, a member of the Joplin Police Department's investigations unit.  "Those costs would be ongoing until the end of the pension life."

Some members of the Pension Board say they've had enough of requesting records from Haase, but getting nothing.  The board members say money and resources to hire an outside administrator will probably be more beneficial in more ways than one.

"They'd give us advice on how to make it easier on the city.  It's not one sided.  We're thinking about everybody when we think about a third party administrator," says Alford.

Haase declined our request to be interviewed for this story.  The Pension Board will research what independent administration companies are available and associated costs.

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