Cindy Stafford said she and the city retirees plan on being outside the council meeting again tonight. She had also planned on speaking to the council, however, she was informed that she would not have the opportunity as the Open Meeting Laws are now subject to temporary suspension. Below is the link to the Texas AG for more details:
From Texas Municipal League:
In addition to the above guidance, the governor suspended the new requirement (added by H.B. 2840 last legislative session) that the public has a right to speak on agenda items. The suspended provision reads as follows:
“Sec. 551.007. PUBLIC TESTIMONY…
(b) A governmental body shall allow each member of the public who desires to address the body regarding an item on an agenda for an open meeting of the body to address the body regarding the item at the meeting before or during the body’s consideration of the item…”
This is what Stafford wants the council to know:
Honorable Mayor and City Council Members.
Good evening. My name is Cindy Stafford. I graduated Tarleton and began work in 1973. For over 20 years, I worked for a good wage but with no health insurance and certainly, no retirement benefits. When I went to work with the City of Stephenville, the benefits off-set the low salaries. The retirement plan (TMRS) is what made the compensation package competitive.
I retired in 2017, and shortly thereafter the city council took action to remove from TMRS the retiree cost of living adjustment. What bothered me about the decision to remove the cost of living adjustment is that the employees were not notified prior to the removal of this benefit from the retirement plan. The ordinance effecting this action was placed on the consent agenda. The council’s own rules of procedure provide that the consent agenda “contains routine items which are not controversial in nature and do not need further discussion”. Do you believe that changes to retirement benefits affecting 110 retirees is “routine” “not controversial”, and needs no further discussion?
Since 2017, additional actions have been taken by the city council to try and eliminate the employee retirement plan from the well-founded and well-funded Texas Municipal Retirement System, which has successfully operated for over 70 years. In its place, the city council is considering contracting with locally favored financial firms with little or no experience in municipal operations who manage funds from stock investments. Who would you trust: TMRS, whose sole existence is to provide retirement, disability, and death benefits for employees of Texas cities or Wall Street?
I urge the council to reinstate the retiree cost of living adjustment benefit in this year’s budget.