By John Cheves — firstname.lastname@example.org
FRANKFORT — State Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, said Tuesday that he has scrapped a controversial plan to sweeten retirement benefits for Lexington police officers and firefighters.
Buford said he won’t call his Senate Bill 136 for a vote this year before the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, which he chairs. The committee discussed the bill last week but did not vote on it.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has agreed to negotiate the issue with police and firefighters, which is a better venue for reaching an agreement than a legislative debate, Buford said.
Gray spokeswoman Susan Straub on Tuesday confirmed ongoing discussions between the mayor and the emergency workers.
SB 136 would have required the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government to pay full health coverage for the spouses and dependent children of its retired police and firefighters. Gray’s aides objected, arguing that the change would cost the city an estimated $2 million to $3 million a year.
Lexington is the only Kentucky city whose police and firefighters have their own pension fund, apart from the Kentucky Retirement Systems. The Lexington pension fund has an unfunded liability of $225 million. State legislative approval is required to make changes.
Police and firefighters covered by the Kentucky Retirement Systems get health insurance for spouses if they have served 20 years and were hired before July 2003.