The Fort Worth City Council late Tuesday night tabled a vote on a possible plan to fix the city's $1.6 billion pension shortfall.
Active and retired Fort Worth police officers, firefighters and general employees had packed the council chambers, opposing the potential reduction in annual cost of living adjustments (COLA) benefits in the city's proposed plan. The plan would reduce COLA benefits from two to one percent on base pension in excess of $30,000.
It would eliminate COLA for some future retirees.
But the council tabled the discussion after it became clear there weren't the votes to pass anything. The next opportunity to vote is expected to come in December.
Even if the council approves the proposed plan, more than 50 percent of current city employees also have to approve it. If that doesn't happen, the issue will likely be settled in Austin, where state lawmakers recently passed a bill to fix the similar pension problem in Dallas.
In Fort Worth, the COLA reduction has been the single biggest sticking point in the issue.
Fort Worth Police Association President Manny Ramirez has said the city's proposal to reduce their annual COLA from two to one percent is something his members and retirees can't accept.
"That's huge for them," Ramirez told WFAA in September. "They work their entire career on the promise something is going to be paid."
Ramirez and firefighter Michael Glynn, their association's president, both effectively said on Tuesday that although the proposal was the product of hard work, it wouldn't get enough support from their members.
Angela Jay, a retired Fort Worth cop with 28 years of service, said she was still dismayed it has come to this.
"I know the police, fire, water and other departments are all ready to fight for what's been promised to us," she said.
Jay was violently shot in the line of duty in 1995, after a man went on a shooting spree at a Fort Worth apartment complex.
She argued that a lot of older retirees from her era or before are barely making ends meet.
"They're living at poverty level, or close to it," said Jay. "This [COLA] is the only way they get any kind of raise. We didn't put into social security because of self-retirement."