Jackson County Exec Frank White Stays Winning Veto Against Pension Increase

Our little corner of the Internets actually offered more discussion and info about this topic than any other news outlet in Kansas City. 

Accordingly, we're obliged to share a recent blast from the courthouse that reveals the outcome of local debate . . . Check-it . . .

County Executive White’s Veto Upheld

 KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr.’s veto of Ordinance 5707 successfully prevented changes to the county’s pension plan that were opposed by numerous county officials and the Pension Plan Board of Trustees.  Ordinance 5707, proposed a dramatic increase in retirement benefits for certain law enforcement officials, despite requiring all county associates to cover the associated additional costs.  

“Every day, more than 1,000 men and women come to work for Jackson County, many of whom will spend years or even decades in service to our community. They deserve to know that when they need it, the retirement support they worked so hard to earn will be there,” said Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. “In addition to the financial costs proposed by Ordinance 5707, it also would have been unfair to require all county employees to cover these new costs despite reserving the benefits for a very select few. What they were trying to do was simply wrong and should serve as a reminder that the progress Jackson County has made in the past few years is not guaranteed and will require our steadfast efforts to preserve and build upon.”  

County Executive White’s veto message details the inequity created by the proposal, the questionable manner and timing of the ordinance’s passage, as well as the potential litigation that the proposal would likely spur.  The County Executive’s veto was supported by the Presiding Judge, Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff and unanimously by the Pension Plan Board of Trustees.  Statements from those officials included, but were not limited to, the following:  

Simone Hollins, legal counsel for the Board of Trustees, wrote the following in a letter to the County Executive:  

“The Board of Trustees has expressed concerns that the Ordinance was passed without any relevant input or substantive recommendations from the Board of Trustees about the sustainability of such changes now or in the future. In addition, this Ordinance is not consistent with the fiduciary duties that the Board of Trustees is charged with which include in part, making decisions which are in the best interest of all Participants and Beneficiaries and to ensure the long-term sustainability of the JCRP.”  

Jackson County’s Presiding Judge expressed similar concerns in letters sent to the County Executive requesting him to issue a veto:  

“I believe the rushing through of this ordinance under these circumstances, while possibly well-meaning, was an ill-conceived exercise of the legislature’s power, was bad public policy, and did not account for or allow the addressing of the issues previously raised by the Pension Board and others,” wrote Presiding Judge J. Dale Youngs. “Further, we continue to believe the ordinance unfairly treats county-funded employees of our Court disparately.”  

Jean Peters Baker, Prosecuting Attorney, addressed the inequity created and potential legal ramifications:  

“It is my belief that this action violated the terms of the collective bargaining agreements executed by various parties including the Prosecutor’s Office,” (. . .) “While we would like to avoid so proceeding, if this is not vetoed by your office, we will proceed to protect the interests of those unfairly affected by this action.”  

At today’s hearing, Legislator Dan Tarwater (R-KC) made a motion to overturn the County Executive’s veto, but Tarwater’s motion failed to receive the six votes needed.  More information regarding the legislative process, including video of this morning’s meeting, can be found here.   

County Executive White’s veto message of Ordinance 5707 is attached, as well as the communication received from the Presiding Judge, Prosecuting Attorney, Pension Board of Trustees and County Counselor’s Office. 


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