Ronald Cohen, the attorney representing the police, fire and general employees’ unions, argued, as he did in December, that the COLA was not an additional benefit and that the increase should be paid. He also acknowledged receipt of Brinkman’s letter.
“If the cost can’t be paid from actuarial experience, OK, it has to be paid from somewhere else. Nowhere does it say it doesn’t have to be paid. The Retirement Board is made up of people who study this — they know how the state has treated it, and they have looked at this very carefully and unanimously decided it should be paid, and you’re making a radical departure. There’s no support from the state letter that says it doesn’t have to be paid.”
Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr., Commissioner Frank Quesada and Cason stood by their earlier position. Newly elected commissioners Pat Keon and Vince Lago also joined the majority.
“After looking over the numbers … the real numbers are $48 million. Yes, we’ve had good returns for one year, but I don’t think we can take $48 million and stack it onto what we already owe. I don’t think that’s responsible leadership,” Lago said.
“I strongly feel it is my responsibility to support the ordinances and the laws of our city and also our state,” Keon said. “Sometimes laws may require us to make decisions we might not like, but that is the law. We are not bound by the judgment of past commissions and not bound by prior legal council. …This does not diminish the respect we have for all of you who work here in the city.”
After the vote, Cohen said he planned to file suit against the city as soon as possible.
“We intend to file a lawsuit to recover the benefit that they’ve earned and that was promised to them.”
Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.