Plan Operations During Coronavirus Emergency
As the Coronavirus emergency continues and affects the stock markets, no member of the plan (active, retired or beneficiary) should be concerned about the safety of their retirement benefits or the timely, month payments. We have sufficient funds to cover all the plan benefit payments. Retirement benefits will be paid on time, as usual. During this emergency closing, and based on orders from the state, county and city governments, the Fort Lauderdale Retirement Plan office will no longer be meeting with members in person. Instead, all communications with the office must be by phone, email, mail, or video chat. Our regular April board meeting, scheduled for April 8 at 12:30 pm, will be held by video conference. This will allow trustees to attend virtually, as well as public members to view the meeting. Check back on this website for instructions on how to attend this meeting as we get closer to the meeting date. These are indeed unique times for our city and our country. We have initiated our business continuation plan and feel comfortable the operations of the retirement plan will continue seamlessly in spite of the continued uncertainty. Lynn Wenguer, Executive Director Read More
Our Pension Plan Designed to Weather Stock Market Changes
Our pension plan members should not panic over the recent dramatic drop in the stock market. Your pension assets are invested in a balanced portfolio designed to minimize drastic downturns in the market, while spreading risk over many different types of asset classes. We have invested in asset classes that rise as the stock market declines. Some are calling this a correction, while others say it is a reaction to the coronavirus. We are in daily communications with the professionals who monitor our portfolio and are confident our asset allocation will withstand this short-term market disturbance. Over the past 29 years, our plan had an average return of 8.57% on investments. The trustees are confident in our investment strategy, which is designed for the long-term sustainability of our guaranteed pension benefits. Kenneth Rudominer, Chairman, Board of Trustees Read More
St. Pete firefighter wins case in fight for cancer benefits
This was the first lawsuit filed in the state over the new law granting benefits to firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer. Lt. Jason Francis with St. Petersburg Fire won his case against the City of St. Petersburg. He worked for the city's fire department for more than 16 years. He was diagnosed with cancer in January 2019. The city denied his requests for benefits because he was diagnosed prior to the law taking effect on July 1. A copy of the judge’s order is included in the article. Read More
The City of Fort Lauderdale is the sponsor of the Fort Lauderdale Police and Firefighters’ Retirement System. All Fort Lauderdale sworn police officers and firefighters are eligible to participate in the plan. A seven-member Board of Trustees, who are either elected by the employees or appointed by the Mayor, administers the pension plan. The plan is a defined benefit plan that promises to pay a guaranteed benefit at retirement.
- 793 – Active members
- 1,104 – Retired members and beneficiaries
- 1,897 – TOTAL PLAN PARTICIPANTS
FUNDING Public safety officers contribute 10% of earnings into the pension plan. Members also pay 7.65% of earnings into Social Security and Medicare. Additional revenue to the pension plan comes from the State of Florida insurance premium tax, the City of Fort Lauderdale, and earnings generated on the invested assets. The plan’s investment returns provide 67% of the plan’s funding. Over the past 28 years, the plan had an average total return of 8.75% – greater than the assumed 7.4% rate of return.
BENEFITS Retirement benefits are based on (1) average final earnings, (2) years of service, and (3) a benefit formula. Public safety officers can retire after 20 years of creditable service (or after 10 years at age 55). Overtime and unused leave do not increase retirement benefits. After 20 years of service, public safety officers are eligible to receive a retirement benefit equaling 60% of their monthly earnings. Retirement benefits are not automatically adjusted annually for cost of living changes. Retirees have not received a COLA since 2001.
DISABILITY Service-related disability benefits provided by the plan cannot exceed 65% of current monthly earnings. Non-service benefits cannot exceed 50% of monthly earnings, with reductions for Social Security benefits, Workers Compensation, or other earned income. The Fort Lauderdale Police and Firefighters’ Retirement System was established by City Ordinance and became effective January 3, 1973. As of 9-30-2018, the pension fund assets totaled $905 million.