Retired, current Dallas officers and firefighters concerned as their pension continues to face problems

DALLAS - Retired Dallas police officers and firefighters are once again frustrated at a report that shows, unless the city makes big changes, they will not get a cost-of-living allowance until the year 2073.

An actuary revealed to a Dallas City Council committee this week that the pension is facing a $3.5 billion shortfall, and that is a number that will get even bigger when 2023 numbers are considered.

The pension doesn't just impact retired first responders.

Ever since the pension crisis began in 2016, Dallas has struggled to recruit new officers.

New numbers show the police department is continuing to lose officers.

"I will be 123 years old when I get my first cost of living allowance," Kenneth Seguin said.

That bleak assessment came from one of the retirees who headed to Dallas City Hall Thursday to hear the latest about the condition of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension.

[REPORTER: "What went through your mind when you heard there is a $3.5 billion shortfall?"]

"It causes anxiety, among a lot of pensioners. Will the pension fall apart? The city declare bankruptcy?" Seguin answered.

Seguin is a retired major with the Dallas Police Department and current reserve officer.

At 73 years old, he wishes he and his fellow retired first responders didn't still have to worry about the promise made to them of financial security.

"The plan has been kicked down the road too many times in years past," he said.

An independent actuary laid out a plan that would once again do just that, more than doubling the city's current payment into the pension to $300 million a year in a little more than a decade.

"Cops and firefighters, I think it is fair to say, we are not experts at financial planning. We trusted the board to do what was necessary," Seguin said.

The former board and pension director, Richard Tettamant, lost hundreds of millions of dollars with risky real estate investments, creating a $7.5 billion dollar shortfall in 2106.

Even with sweeping changes to benefits, the pension is still not on solid ground and turnover on the Dallas City Council means new members are constantly inheriting old problems.

"It is as if we have been given this maze, and I don't know which direction to turn," Dallas City Councilwoman Kathy Stewart said.

It’s a problem that does not just impact retirees.

Friday, Dallas City Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn, along with several Dallas PD recruiters, traveled to Chicago in hopes of bringing more officers here.

New numbers from DPD show that Dallas has its lowest number of officers in three years, just more than 3,000, which is not enough to keep pace with population growth.

"When I was hired in 1976, I was offered a job with Houston police and Dallas police," Seguin recalled. "I told the chairman of my board that is why I would choose Dallas over Houston, it offered a better pension."

As leaders consider if retirees deserve a cost-of-living allowance within a realistic life expectancy, Seguin's message is that they should honor that promise.

Dallas has one year before state lawmakers want to see the city's solution for the funding the pension.

The City Council Pension Committee is set to discuss a plan to fund the pension on December 14.