Indianapolis ponders issuing bonds to pay for pensions

City facing cash crunch over lucrative retirement packages for police officers, firefighters

Indianapolis is considering selling bonds to help pay for lucrative pensions for retiring firefighters and police officers.

About 1,600 firefighters and police officers are part of what WISH television called an “outdated” retirement plan that is a huge burden on the city’s coffers. Another 500 that qualify under the old plan will be eligible for retirement in the next couple of years.

“What it is doing is pitting this competition of pension obligations against current public safety operations,” said Barbara Lawrence, the city’s controller.

All told, the 2,100 emergency services workers represent a $470 million US obligation. To help pay this tab the city is proposing to issue up to $100 million US in bonds — pension obligation bonds — “to create a pension stabilization account,” said Lawrence.

She said issuing the bonds would give the city a five-year cushion while it figures out a long-term solution to pay the pensions.

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