Police, firefighters associations lose retirement contribution suit

TRENTON – The state Superior Court this morning ruled in favor of the state and against the associations representing police and firefighters concerning changes made in 2003 and 2009 to employer contributions to retirement plans.

The court rejected claims by the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey and the Fraternal Order of Police that contractual rights of members had been violated by the state.

The lawsuit stemmed from changes made in 2003 and again in 2009 changing the employer contribution method for retirement.

The court pointed out that the sweeping changes made this year to public employee pensions and benefits have no bearing on this particular case.

In 2003, the state – seeking to ease burdens on employers other than the state – allowed them to pay only 20 percent of actuarial liability for fiscal year 2004, 40 percent for FY 2005, 60 percent for FY 2006, and 80 percent for FY 2007.

Then in 2009 the state further changed the system. It allowed employers other than the state to pay 50 percent of the actuarially certified amount for FY 2009 into the retirement plan.

The unions had sued, alleging that these actions violated their contracts.

But the court decided that the Legislature retains the right to change the system and has discretion to maintain the funds as it sees fit.

The unions had been appealing from a 2010 decision against them.

Police, firefighters associations lose retirement contribution suit