Three of Omaha’s mayoral candidates participated in a forum Wednesday on the city's fire contract.
Former City Council president Dan Welch, current Councilwoman Jean Stothert and businessman Dave Nabity took part in the debate-like format lunch at Anthony’s restaurant, 72nd and F streets. Mayor Jim Suttle didn’t attend and Brad Ashford is out of town.
As the contract stands now, the claim is that it would save the city an estimated $822 million over 50 years. The candidates say that number is based on an eight-percent return on the pension fund. They were divided on what that means for the city.
"We're still allowing people to retire after 25 years of service at the age of 45 with a 75 percent multiplier, so a 75 percent pension on your best year out of the last five,” said Welch. “Does that sound like reform to you?"
“The firefighters need to understand that there's a real high probability that the pension fund's going to be out of money in 20 years if interest rates are really around four percent,” said Nabity.
"This number was given to us by the pension board and that's why it's in the contract,” said Stothert. “This is not a reason to reject the contract. The pension board can adjust this at any time.”
The council is expected to vote on the contract next week and that decision will be veto-proof.