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L.A. pension board rejects freeze on health subsidy for retired police, firefighters

March 4, 2011 |  1:53 pm

The agency that oversees benefits for nearly 10,000 retired Los Angeles police officers and firefighters has rejected a call from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to freeze the size of the health subsidy given to pensioners.

Villaraigosa held a news conference two days ago to urge the nine-member Fire and Police Pensions board to reject a planned 7% increase to the subsidy it provides each retiree.

On Thursday, the board voted 5 to 4 to go ahead with the increase, bringing the monthly subsidy -- which covers insurance premiums -- to $1,097 per retiree.

Five of the board’s nine members are selected by Villaraigosa. But one mayoral appointee, Adlai Wertman, voted to ignore Villaraigosa and approve the subsidy hike.

Villaraigosa had argued that a freeze on the subsidy would save the city $4.8 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Board President Dean Hansell voted with the mayor but disagreed with his estimate, saying such a move would have saved only $200,000 next year because payments affiliated with the subsidy increase are spread over 24 years.

Hansell said other board members called for the city to find alternatives to addressing the budget crisis that do not affect retirees.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

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