Charles E. Jackson, 46, retired last year after 27 years with the Houston Police Department; he would have been due an annual pension of $36,903. The Houston Chronicle reports that Jackson knew of a quirk in the pension system. In his last year, he worked the overnight shift at the airport and thus nearly doubled his lifetime annual pension to $72,389.
As the police pension system struggles with an estimated $480 million funding shortfall, more and more officers are taking advantage of the same benefit. The Chronicle examined all pay records of officers who triggered their pensions in 2003; about 29 percent earned the extra pay. The extra pay was negotiated by the police union and the administration of Mayor Lee Brown at the time the main municipal pension was made so generous that it now has a $1.5-billion funding shortfall.
In 2001, the actuarial firm of Towers Perrin forecast that the city’s contribution to the fund would be $46 million next year, rising steadily to $56 million in 2010. But now it says the city should contribute $105 million next year, rising to $147 million in 2010.