June 24, 2014 at 11:12 pm

City attorney: Detroiters should 'stand up and say no' to EM process

Nowling (David Coates)

Detroit — An attorney for the city cried foul Tuesday over ordinance amendments tied to a new hybrid pension plan being imposed by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

During a public hearing at City Hall, Assistant Corporation Counsel Lewis Smith told Detroit’s chief operating officer, Gary Brown, that he was “appalled by this process,” reiterating his opposition to the state’s emergency manager law and the changes being imposed by Orr, both of which he claims are illegal.

“This process is so tremendously flawed,” Smith said. “It goes against everything we’ve been taught about having a voice. It goes against everything I fight for ...

“I’m hoping the people of the city of Detroit will stand up and say no, no more of this.”

Smith was among a handful of Detroit employees and retirees who took the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns over the pension and health care changes being proposed in Orr’s debt-cutting plan.

The frustrations prompted Brown to vow the city will organize another employee seminar.

“There’s obviously a need for an employee seminar to go through questions and answers,” Brown told the audience.

Miller noted the pension freeze is the first of a two-part process. The city, in its bankruptcy plan, is also proposing pension and health care changes for members of the city’s General Retirement System and Police and Fire Retirement System.

The new pension plan formulas discussed Tuesday go into effect July 1 for all active and new employees under the city’s general and police and fire pension funds. The move is designed to strengthen the two pension funds while maintaining a defined benefit retirement program, Orr has said.

As part of the changes, current employees who participate in the general pension system will contribute 4 percent of their weekly pre-tax base salary, and police and fire employees will contribute 6 percent toward the cost of benefits payable under their respective hybrid pension plans. Police and fire members hired after June 30 will contribute 8 percent, the city said.

In addition, the city will contribute a match amount to the respective new funds for each employee who participates. Deductions will be seen in employee paychecks beginning July 14.

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