Retirement systems cause confusion at city level

By Bonnie Culverhouse

The Minden Police Department’s retirement plan caused some confusion during Monday night’s meeting of the Minden City Council.

Michael Fluhr, interim City Clerk, said he is waiting to hear from the Attorney General’s office concerning who must be in MPD’s retirement fund and who should be in the City of Minden’s fund.

Fluhr pointed out that, with the council’s permission, Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper added a secretary and dispatcher, neither of which are Civil Service employees.

“We’ve been told that these employees need to be reported in the Police Municipal Retirement System,” Fluhr said. “Even though they are not Civil Service. Basically, everybody in that department is Civil Service and has to go into that retirement system.”

Fluhr said the employees that must go into that system are based on an Attorney General’s opinion, something which he is having difficulty acquiring.

“So, we are still waiting on the explanation,” he said. “I did not understand it.”

In addition, the department has another employee that is not Civil Service. According to Fluhr, even though she has been there a few years, she will likely be required to go under the police retirement system, as well.

Chief Steve Cropper, who is retiring at the end of the year, said he is also confused.

“When I turned in my paperwork, I assumed I would fall under the police retirement system, but due to my length of time (in office), I am going through the city’s retirement system,” Cropper said.

Fluhr said it is possible the next police chief will fall under the police retirement system, “which will require more contribution from the city,” Fluhr said. “I do not understand it; I was asking for the Attorney General’s opinion, but they could not provide it.”

When District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker asked if Fluhr requested the AG’s opinion, he answered that he asked MERS (Municipal Employees Retirement System) to send him the AG’s opinion.

“They said it is not published yet,” Fluhr said.

“They are not going to give you an opinion if you call and ask,” Walker said. “You have to write and ask for an opinion, so Mr. (Jimbo) Yocom (City Attorney) could ask for an opinion.”

“I don’t think they have an opinion yet,” Fluhr said. “I think it is odd they are saying someone who is not in Civil Service should be in the police retirement system. If you hire a janitor for the police department, he needs to go into the police retirement system?”

Walker then asked if those who were already employed with the police department would get back pay.

“We don’t know,” Mayor Tommy Davis replied.

“In the chief’s case, it has to do with the years he’s been there,” Fluhr said.

Cropper said it was his understanding that he paid into the police retirement fund the 12 years he has been chief.

“When I turned in my paperwork, I got confused because I started getting papers from the city’s retirement,” he said. Human Resources Director April Aguilar informed him that based on his years of service, that “I would have to fall under the city’s retirement.”

Davis said, in his opinion, the confusion was at the state level.

“We are still in the process of trying to get this worked out,” he said. “And trying to get more information on it.”

Fluhr said he would like to get something in writing and, “not just what somebody says. The regular retirement system refused to take them (Chief and other employee).”