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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cities see referendum vote to cut police, fire and city pensions as harbinger



Hollywood residents made it clear Tuesday: The city can no longer afford its current employee pension plans.

With a low voter turnout — about 13 percent of the city’s 84,521 registered voters — residents cast ballots to strip police, firefighters and the city’s general employee’s of their current pension plans, allowing the city to save $8.5 million.

“This isn’t necessarily something where we look at it and say ‘yay’ we won,” said City Spokeswoman Raelin Storey. “This has been a very difficult time for the city.”

Facing a $38 million deficit and unable to come to an agreement with the city’s unions, Hollywood leaders took the risky move of putting the issue to a public referendum. Last year, the city said it had to put $36.6 million into the underfunded pension program.

Several cities throughout South Florida are also struggling with sharply increased pension costs, and have been eyeing the Hollywood case to see how it turned out. “It could be a harbinger,’’ said Stephen Cypen, an attorney who represents more than a dozen South Florida municipal pension funds, including Hollywood’s. More here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 10:46am]


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