NEW ORLEANS – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that the City of New Orleans has reached an agreement with the Firefighters Union on the decades long firefighters back pay lawsuit and pension lawsuit. The settlement resolves these significant liabilities, keeps the city on a positive fiscal track, makes major reforms to the pension and ensures that it will be there for future generations of firefighters.
“Our firefighters keep this city safe every single day,” said Mayor Landrieu. “I have wanted to solve this problem, just like we’ve fixed so many other things together, including NOPD consent decree, S&WB consent decree, HANO receivership, ADA consent decree, and Youth Study Center consent decree. Today’s settlement ensures that firefighters will get paid what they are owed in back pay in the 80s, 90s and 2000s, while ensuring that our taxpayers are protected.”
The $75 million settlement requires an upfront payment of $15 million for the outstanding back pay, with the balance paid over the next 13 years. The City’s potential liability of more than $200 million is satisfied under the terms of the settlement, and its ability to deliver essential services to residents, such as police, fire, EMS, street repairs and parks and recreation will not be threatened. In April 2016, the City will go to the voters for a 2.5 mill increase to pay these obligations.
For the last five years, the City has been working with the legislature to make changes to the pension system to ensure it is structurally sound. The stability and sustainability of the pension system is in the best interest of the City and firefighters. The settlement includes major structural reforms that will indeed help to fix the broken pension system and effectively save taxpayers $200 to $300 million over the next 30 years. Under the terms of the settlement, the City will be allowed to satisfy the $21 million that it owes the pension fund by making its annual contribution to the fund.
"Promise made, Promise Kept! I'm very happy with this resolution,” said Jason Williams, New Orleans City Councilmember-at-Large President. "I am proud to be a part of the Council that wrestled with this decade’s long matter and resolved it. We kept our commitment to the firefighters without sacrificing our obligation to the peoples' budget. It ensures a safe financial future for retirees, current firemen and the city."
“I am honored to have been part of the working group with fire fighters, city officials and citizens to resolve decades-long problems related to our fire department,” said City Councilmember-at-Large Stacy Head. “Our city's ability to provide services to the public has been threatened by these lingering problems, and I am excited that the long-term reforms and resolved liabilities in this settlement will improve our city's financial health and allow us to continue to grow.”
“This agreement is an incredible achievement, putting an end to decades of argument and establishing a fair, responsible path forward, said District A City Councilmember Susan Guidry. “I would like to thank Mayor Landrieu and Councilmember Head for their leadership and determination to resolve this issue, the Business Council of New Orleans for their support throughout the negotiations, and the firefighters for their dedication to keeping our city safe and for working with us toward this resolution.”
“I am relieved that we have a chance now to put this long and difficult negotiation behind us as a city,” said District B City Councilmember Latoya Cantrell. “Thank you to all who have been involved in the discussions and negotiations that resulted in this agreement.”
"This was a long and difficult process, but we have reached an agreement that is fair to the firefighters yet still manageable for the city's budget,” said District D Councilmember Jared Brossett. "Not having this looming over our heads allows us to move forward with the work of providing the services the citizens expect from City Hall."
"I'm proud of the hard work put in by both City and Union leaders to come to this compromise. I'm encouraged to hear that this deal protects both the taxpaying public and the Firefighters that protect us," said Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter Peterson. "Our City works best when we work together to solve our toughest problems and this is a big step forward."
“Now that this has been resolved, we can now move forward on solving the crime problem in New Orleans by working in concert with all levels of government including the state,” said District 105 Louisiana State Representative Christopher Leopold.
Public safety continues to be the top priority. Yesterday, Mayor Landrieu announced that he anticipates additional funds in the 2016 budget to hire 50 new firefighters and purchase 20 new fire trucks.