Pension charter amendment headed to the ballot

Aug 13, 2013

A group that wants to change the pension system for city of Cincinnati employees has enough valid signatures to place a charter amendment on the November ballot, according to the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

The group, Cincinnati Pension Reform, turned in 16,116 signatures and 9,726 turned out to be valid signatures of Cincinnati voters. They needed 7,443 to make the ballot.

The group paid nearly $70,000 to a California firm that specializes in putting paid petition circulators on the ground in Cincinnati and gathered the signatures within a few weeks.

The charter amendment would put city workers hired after January 2014 into a retirement plan which would require the city to contribute up to nine percent of a worker’s base pay.

The city’s pension system is currently in serious trouble – it is only 61 percent funded and has already contributed to the city’s bond rating being lowered.

But city council has gone on record as saying the Cincinnati Pension Reform charter amendment is the wrong way to fix the system.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who is a candidate for mayor, put out a statement Monday critical of the charter amendment.

“Under the guise of ‘reform,” a well-funded out-of-state group is pushing an amendment that spells economic disaster for the future retirees and the city’s budget,’’ Qualls said. “Current and future retirees need an income they can live on. This amendment is a budget-buster for retirees and the city.”

Another mayoral candidate, former council member John Cranley, has also come out against the charter amendment.