1,000 Memphis First Responders Will Newly Qualify for Benefits from 1978 Pension Plan, Pending City Council Approval

The City of Memphis announced Wednesday that roughly 1,000 first responders will qualify to take part in the city’s 1978 pension plan, pending the Memphis City Council’s approval.

“I am happy to say that we have agreed with the association to provide those firefighters and police officers who currently do not qualify for the 1978 pension plan  – those hired since July 1, 2016, and all future hires – to have the option to choose the 1978 or the 2016 pension plan beginning July 1, 2023, subject to city council approval. Currently, there are about 1,000 firefighters, police officers, and dispatchers who would qualify,” Mayor Jim Strickland said.

The Memphis City Council voted to discontinue the 1978 pension plan in 2014 but, according to Mayor Strickland, the renewal of the plan was made possible due to revenue generated by an increase in sales tax. The hike was approved by voters in 2018. All employees hired before July 1, 2016 already participate in the 1978 pension plan, but this change would allow employees hired after July 1, 2016 to participate in the plan as well.

The 1978 pension plan allows for all public safety employees to contribute 8 percent of their salary and the city of Memphis will match their contribution by at least 6 percent of their salary. When the employees retire, they will receive a percentage of their highest three-year average every month.

Strickland said, “Over the last almost seven years, we have continually improved the pay and benefits for firefighters and police officers to better recruit and retain them. Now more than ever, these efforts are essential in maintaining our public safety workforce, and this investment will help us. With today’s change, the 2019 public safety referendum will allow us to offer the 1978 pension as an option for all of these essential employees.”

The mayor added that that they will continue to improve the “pay, benefits, and working conditions” for first responders, so they can continue to grow the departments.

“This will be another significant financial benefit for Memphis police officer and firefighters, and we all agree that if will help out efforts to recruit and retain,” said Mayor Strickland.

The 1978 pension plan must be approved by the Memphis City Council before it will be finalized. The plan expansion’s cost to taxpayers is unknown, however it will be presented to the city council in April 2023, once it is finalized.

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Kaitlyn Osteen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Send Kaitlyn news tips to [email protected].



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