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Mayor Appoints Task Force on Milwaukee’s Pension System

Panel to Offer Solutions for Funding Challenges and Pension System Sustainability

June 11, 2021

MILWAUKEE—Mayor Tom Barrett has empaneled a Mayor’s Task Force on Milwaukee’s Pension System to address the imminent and ominous financial challenges stemming from the City’s Employees’ Retirement System. The 13 member body includes representatives of City government, public employee unions and prominent community members.

“Over the past 10 years, my administration has worked to manage the growing costs of the City’s pension system through benefit adjustments, contribution smoothing and new revenue options. To date, nothing has sufficiently addressed the problem,” Mayor Barrett said. “The budgetary impact will soon climb to more than $140 million annually, and that demand is simply unsustainable.”

The pension funding issues have already led to cuts throughout city government including in the number of police officers and firefighting companies.

The Task Force is asked to address several issues including:

  • What options are there to manage and reduce the costs for employee pensions?
  • What are the most impactful and fair changes to help the City meet the challenges?
  • How might those changes affect employees, retirees and the City’s budgets?

“I am not looking to ‘kick the can down the road,’” Mayor Barrett said. “I am looking for lasting and sustainable solutions.”

The Mayor has asked Antonio Riley to serve as chair of the Task Force. Riley is a former regional administrator at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and previously served as executive director of WHEDA and in the state legislature.

Other members of the Task Force include:

  • Joe’Mar Hooper, Public member
  • Mark Nicolini, Public member
  • Gina Spang, Public member
  • Nik Kovac, Alderman, 3rd District
  • Dennis Yaccarino, Budget & Management Director, City of Milwaukee
  • Nicole Fleck, Labor Negotiator, City of Milwaukee 
  • Jerry Allen, Vice President, City of Milwaukee Employees’ Retirement System 
  • Beth Cleary, Executive Director, City of Milwaukee Deferred Compensation 
  • Michael Bongiorno, President, International Association of Firefighters Local 215
  • Andy Wagner, Vice President, Milwaukee Police Association
  • Carmelo Patti, President, Milwaukee Police Supervisors Organization
  • Mark Pelzek, Vice President, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees District Council 32

The Task Force will begin its work next week. Rather than voting on specific proposals and recommendations, the final report is likely to incorporate all feasible approaches. The Mayor has asked that the Task Force present its findings by mid-August of this year.

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