Chairman David L. Keller, Jr. to Discussed Fund Issues on Houston NewsMakers, Click 2 Houston
On Sunday's edition of Channel 2, Houston NewsMakers with Khambrel Marshall, Chairman Keller discusses recent Fund issues at 10:00 AM.
The focus of your Board of Trustees is our
membership. We recognize our fiduciary responsibility to advocate for our
members at all times. This is what we have done and will continue to do.
Click here to view the video.
Discussions on Plan Update from Chairman David L. Keller, Jr.
Houston, TX – September 14, 2016: To the membership of the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund,
As you know, over the past many months, a team of Trustees from your Board have been meeting with Mayor Turner and/or his staff at the Mayor’s request to attempt to reach an agreement on adjustments to the HFRRF plan. Although we have worked diligently on your behalf, we have not reached an agreement at this time. We have discussed economic changes that would fit within the guidelines set forth by the Mayor. We have also presented issues that are important to us. However, no resolution has been made.
This has been a challenging process for numerous and various reasons along the way. The HFRRF became the strongest of the three Houston pension funds and one of the most successful in the State by careful deliberation and due diligence. We have been applying the same approach here. Every adjustment proposed was considered based on the impact it would have on the various populations of the membership.
We will not be in attendance today at the Mayor’s announcement because we are not comfortable portraying to the membership or the public that we have reached a deal. However, we have not walked away from the table. We are open to continuing the discussion with Mayor Turner in an attempt to reach a mutual agreement.
We began these discussions with the idea that it would be better to participate and shape reforms rather than have them imposed by the Legislature. If we can resolve all of the issues required to reach an agreement with the Mayor and City, it will come with adjustments to DROP, cost of living adjustments, contributions, and the interest crediting rate. As you probably expect, these are the targets of discussion regarding our plan. The Mayor has committed publicly to a defined-benefit pension and the basic structure that is currently in place.
We will continue to work under the premise that the benefits of the HFRRF are earned benefits by Houston Firefighters. These benefits are part of the total compensation of our members. We believe that retirement with CERTAINTY and DIGNITY are paramount. We believe that the whims of local politics and budget shortfalls not of our making should not dictate the certainty of a firefighter’s retirement.
The focus of your Board of Trustees is our membership. We recognize our fiduciary responsibility to advocate for our members at all times. This is what we have done and will continue to do. We have a desire to promote the health of our plan and ensure its sustainability. We will continue to update you as additional information is available.
David L. Keller, Jr.
City of Houston Loses on
Appeal in Denied Bid to Have Its Firefighters’ Pension Statute Declared
Houston, TX – September 9, 2016: The Houston
Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (“the Fund”) won another major victory
in defense of a City of Houston lawsuit.
The Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals rejected the City’s petition to
have the statute governing the firefighters’ pension declared
unconstitutional. The opinion found the
district court's opinion in the Fund's favor to be correct on all grounds. The law governing the Fund had been changed
or updated over the years by the legislature, but has operated constitutionally
for 79 years to provide retirement and disability benefits to Houston
firefighters and their survivors.
appears that the lawsuit was without any basis to begin with and the City has
wasted both City and Fund resources in a meritless lawsuit, which has been
senselessly continued on appeal," observed David Keller, the Fund's
statutes that govern the Fund are thorough and reasonable, employing a sound
formula that determines contributions and solid funding. The Fund is one of the best funded public
pension plans in the State of Texas. The City of Houston pays only about 20% of
the cost of benefits going to retired firefighters with the remaining 80% or so
coming from the Fund’s investments over the long term of the Fund's
existence and the firefighters' own contributions to the Fund.
Fund was created by state statute, and since its founding in 1937, it has been
administered by its Board of Trustees as provided in the statute. This structure has kept the Fund's core
stability safe from the ever-changing impulses of big city politics and
spending. Additionally, the Fund reports
to the state Pension Review
Board (PRB), an agency of the state of
Texas, and the fund files copies of the actuarial valuations, appraisal
reports, annual audits and performs all reporting required of it by the
PRB. The size of the Funds’ assets have
grown over the years. The market value
of the Fund assets in 1988 was approximately $468 million, today its assets are
approximately $3.84 billion.
Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund Board of Trustees Elect New Chair, Vice
Chair and Approve Schedule for Special Election to Complete Unexpired
Term for Trustee Position I
Board at a special meeting held on Monday, August 1, 2016 elected David L.
Keller, Jr., to serve as the Chairman of the Board, a position left vacant due
to the retirement of former Chair Todd E. Clark. Keller, a Chief
Communications Officer at the Houston Emergency
Center (HEC) in the Fire Department Office of Emergency Communications joined the Houston Fire Department in 1993 (Class of 93D).
began serving on the board in January 2014, and holds an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Fire Science
and Safety Technology from Houston Community College, a Bachelor of Science in
Management I Applied Management from Kaplan University and earned a
Master's of Public Administration in 2016 from Sam Houston State
University. Stephen R. Whitehead, who serves in Trustee Position III,
will serve as the Vice Chair.
at this special board meeting the board approved the election schedule for the
candidate to complete the unexpired term for trustee position 1 formerly held
by Todd E. Clark. Candidates for Position 1 must be an active member selected
from the ranks of Engineer/Operator or Firefighter. This position should
be filled no later than mid-November 2016.
The board has been in a number of meetings with the mayor
about our pension. These talks are on-going. Our board remains a team of
exceptional men and women who will continue to make decisions in the best
interest of our membership.
The occasion of retirement is a cause for celebration.
We wish Mr. Clark well, and congratulate and welcome David L. Keller, Jr., as Chair and Stephen R. Whitehead, Vice Chair.
Houston Firefighters' Relief and Retirement Fund
Board of Trustees
Occasionally HFRRF lists and sells its excess equipment on eBay. Please click here to see a complete list and place your bid if interested. All merchandise must be picked up during office hours at the Administration building.