No Switch to Defined Contribution Retirement

The Ann Arbor city council wound up not considering a resolution that would have directed the city administrator to develop a defined contribution retirement plan to offer non-union employees hired after July 1, 2013. The city currently has a defined benefit plan.

The sponsor of the resolution, Jane Lumm (Ward 2), withdrew the resolution, saying that the city administrator and the city attorney had identified some concerns with the resolution. Possibly related to the resolution was a closed session held at the beginning of the council’s meeting, to discuss labor negotiation strategy.

Although the withdrawn resolution indicated specific action for non-union employees, it also included a goal to implement a similar change for union employees – which would have to be collectively bargained. The second resolved clause indicated that the city would “…strive to implement the same pension changes for all new employees.”

The directive to the city administrator in the withdrawn resolution stated that the non-union retirement plan – along with the appropriate ordinance amendments, related plan documents, and implementation steps – were to be developed within three months, by Jan. 31, 2013, for review first by the city council’s labor committee then by the full council.

Lumm’s resolution had been added to the Nov. 8 agenda on Nov. 2. She had told her colleagues at the council’s Oct. 1, 2012 meeting that she’d be bringing the resolution forward. She’d drafted a similar resolution in May this year, in connection with possible amendments to the FY 2013 budget. She didn’t bring forward the resolution at that time, partly because it was not technically an amendment to the budget and partly because the deliberations on the budget had already lasted several hours.

Lumm campaigned for her seat on the council in 2011 based partly on a call for a transition to a defined contribution plan. Among the reasons Lumm cited in her resolution was new state legislation that was enacted recently – which will facilitate the transition to defined contribution plans. [.pdf of analysis by Senate Fiscal Agency of Public Act 329 of 2012]

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]