Thanks to hard work and political action by members of Howard County, MD Local 2000, the County Council passed Council Bill 51-2014 creating a Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) for fire fighters and updating the plan for police officers. The legislation passed unanimously, receiving bi-partisan support from the five-member Council.
The new plan, effective January 1, 2015, provides for a DROP period of up to five years once police and fire fighter employees reach a minimum of 25 years of creditable service.
“This is a great day in the history of our local,” says Local 2000 President Rich Ruehl. “This legislation was made possible because of the hard work of our members, and we are extremely proud of that.”
The Local 2000 leadership began working with their legal counsel and the IAFF in the fall of 2012 to develop a framework for passing the legislation. Local 2000 presented its first proposal to the County in February 2013. After numerous drafts, two analyses from the pension plan actuary and countless meetings to negotiate various provisions, the final legislation was submitted to the Council in August.
“Without the support of our County Executive Ken Ulman, his administrative staff, our counsel and the expert advice we received from the IAFF, this would not have become a reality,” notes Ruehl.
Taking into account testimony on the bill from numerous sources, including the fire fighter and police unions, County administration, the pension oversight commission and the pension plan actuary, the County Council debated the historic legislation for three weeks before casting their votes October 6.
District 1 County Council member Courtney Watson says of the bill, “We have made a significant stride in adding additional options for fire fighters and police officers who protect our citizens each day. By updating the DROP plan we have provided much-needed predictability for our County as more public safety professionals near the end of their careers.” Watson continues, “I am pleased that we could adopt this new plan. I look forward to continuing a great relationship with our fire fighters and police officers in the future.”
Howard County Local 2000 has endorsed Watson for County Executive in the November 4 elections.