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In a photo from Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, The Thinker, a sculpture by Auguste Rodin is seen outside the art museum. / Carlos Osorio, AP

DETROIT -- Detroit officials were concerned enough about a wave of city employees putting in for retirement that top administrators and consultants held a series of forums for workers to explain details about Detroit's pension reductions - and to alert workers that retiring now, rather than staying on with the city, won't preserve pension benefits from cuts in bankruptcy.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr's spokesman, Bill Nowling, said Tuesday that the city learned last week that documents and emails being shared among workers claimed, in various ways, that retiring before July 1 might mean less of a pension cut for city workers.

Not so, Nowling said.

"That's just flat-out wrong," Nowling said. "Cuts to pensions are going to be irrespective of whether you retire now or wait to retire after July 1."

Nowling said city officials learned last week that about 50 people had put in retirement paperwork. Those workers have 30 days to rescind their decision by contacting human resources officials.

City officials quickly set up four information sessions Tuesday to provide up-to-date information to city workers about the pension cuts, a new pension plan that begins this summer - and how retiring now won't protect anyone from cuts approved in Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

A committee representing Detroit retirees in bankruptcy court is hosting a series of town hall meetings Wednesday and Friday to answer questions about voting on the city's plan to cut retirement benefits.

Under terms of the so-called grand bargain to ease pension cuts and spare the Detroit Institute of Arts from being sold, $194.8 million from the state has been pledged by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, along with $366 million from private foundations and $100 million from the DIA to spin off the museum to a private nonprofit, with the proceeds going to pension funds.

If pension beneficiaries approve that plan, members of the city's Police and Fire Retirement System would see no pension cut but a reduction by more than half of its cost-of-living increases.

Beneficiaries of the city's General Retirement System would lose 4.5% of their pensions and lose cost of living adjustments altogether.

If pension voters reject the city's plan, the money from the state, foundations and the DIA is pulled from the deal, and both police and fire and general retirement beneficiaries face steeper benefits cuts: no cost-of-living adjustment for police and fire retirees, and a 27% pension cut for GRS recipients.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Detroit to workers: Retiring now won't save pension cuts

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