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Employees could lose benefits, pensions due city’s financial concerns

<i>WPVI</i><br/>A meeting was held at Chester City Hall Wednesday night to discuss the city's financial concerns.
A meeting was held at Chester City Hall Wednesday night to discuss the city's financial concerns.

By Bob Brooks

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    CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — Frustrations are growing in the city of Chester, Pennsylvania over the possibility that hundreds of workers could lose their pensions.

A meeting was held at Chester City Hall Wednesday night to discuss the issue.

The standing-room-only crowd of current and past city of Chester employees got a chance to have a Q&A session with the members of the state’s team that is supposed to correct Chester’s sinking financial ship.

Eliminating retiree health care, cutting the city’s costs for active employees’ medical benefits and reducing the city’s pension and debt-service costs are potentially on the chopping block.

“The issue right now is Chester faces a $46.5 million deficit next year on a $55 million budget. We are forced to consider a lot of very harsh measures,” said Vijay Kapor, who is the chief of staff for Chester’s receiver.

Before the meeting, a rally was held by those who would be impacted.

Alan Davis, a retired police captain, was in attendance. He was shot on the job.

“I ended up with two bullets, one blew my arm apart,” said Davis.

He says losing his benefits would be catastrophic.

“It would make me homeless and uninsured,” said Davis.

Action News also spoke with current Chester Police Captain Marilyn Lee.

“We wouldn’t have employees because at the end of the day the risks that they take they need benefits,” said Lee.

Officials say along with a lack of tax revenue, there’s one other major issue that contributes to this.

“The retirees are absolutely right that for a very long period of time the city did not make its full contributions to its pension funds and they have every right to be upset about that,” said Kapor.

Those who are set to be impacted say that’s not fair.

“They’re now facing, ‘I might not have health care.’ That doesn’t sit well with any of us,” said Jonathan Ross, who is the president of FOP Lodge 19.

There’s no date set for when this could happen. Officials also say Chester may have to declare bankruptcy.

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