Without dissent, city councilors Tuesday agreed to hand out hefty cost-of-living pension hikes to retired municipal workers.
The supposed one-time increase will give about two dozen of the most lucratively compensated retired workers $4,200 more each year.
But most of the nearly 400 eligible retired workers will get lesser hikes, though everyone who gets a Bristol pension check will receive at least another $10 a month.
City Councilor Mike Rimcoski said he went along with the proposal because he was outnumbered anyway.
Besides, he said, “This is the retirees’ money and future retirees,” too.
The deal, which will bring more money to hundreds of retired general city employees, won’t cost taxpayers anything, officials said.
The money is coming out of a trust fund that has a staggering excess thanks to wise investments over the past 30 years. It currently contains more than $500 million, at least $150 million more than it’s expected to need.
The city has no obligation to raise pensions, but councilors opted to do it for the second time ever because the cost-of-living adjustment will help so many people.
The council agreed to hand out a hike consisting of 75 percent of the annual cost-of-living increase to pension funds for each year back to 2001, the first time any pension hikes were given.
That means that workers who were retired in 2001 would get up to 16 percent more each month, though nobody can get more than $350 extra monthly.
One member of the council, Democrat Frank Nicastro, abstained on the issue. He receives a city pension for his 10-year stint as mayor and 17 years as a truant officer.
Rimcoski said a few weeks ago that he wanted to raise the minimum that every retiree would get and to scale back the maximum payment. He said that would be more fair to everyone who is struggling to get by on a pension check.
But officials said it would be costly and difficult to revise the plan that consultants worked out last fall.
The council intended to pass the increase late last year, but had to delay it after lawyers realized that a municipal ordinance needed to be changed before the inflation adjustment could be made in retirees’ checks.
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