Omaha's Pension Task Force releases recommendations

Omaha, NE – Omaha's Pension Task Force is recommending the city and unions fund the pension shortfall equally.

The Task Force released its report Wednesday. The pension fund is currently facing a $593 million shortfall. Task Force members say the city has few other options but to meet its obligations to the pension fund. Chairman Bob Bates says city ordinance requires equal funding, but there's also a spirit of cooperation.

To meet its obligations, Omaha could levy an additional six-cents in property taxes. Another option is to increase the sales tax by half a cent. The third is to enact a garbage fee. The latter two options require legislative approval. Omaha voters would also have to approve a sales tax increase. The report recommends that Omaha's City Council pass the property tax measure by the end of this year as a safeguard. Whichever option is chosen wouldn't take effect until 2011.

Police and Fire Union members are being asked to increase their contributions. The Task Force report also recommends raising the age and years of service requirements for retirement. Anyone wanting to retire early would face a significant penalty.

The recommendations still must be approved by the Omaha City Council. City officials would have to bring the sales tax and garbage fee proposals to the Legislature. Also, collective bargaining will be necessary.