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Policy: Entitlements

Orleans loses firefighter retirement battle

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News,Business,Entitlements,Pensions,New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to block state court rulings requiring New Orleans to pay $17.5 million for its share of the fire department's retirement fund for 2010 through 2012.

The Landrieu administration stopped making full monthly payments to the fund in July 2010.

The city said it could not afford the payments, and argued that ambiguities in the law give the mayor discretion over the amount of the city contribution. The city also says poor investments by the Firefighters Pension Board have driven up the city's contribution amount.

The city had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay implementation of the state ruling pending an appeal. Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin said the city was reviewing its legal options.

The $17.5 million judgment, combined with the city's cost of a court-backed jail reform agreement Sheriff Marlin Gusman struck with inmates and the U.S. Justice Department, "will be devastating to the City's budget and could potentially lead to cutting critical City services," Kopplin said in an emailed statement.

Negotiations and court hearings involving the city, the sheriff and inmate attorneys continue over funding the jail reform plan, which is expected to add millions more annually to the city budget.

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