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The Settlement Agreement 



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Final Retirees Class Presentation on 6/26/15 with notes

Scam Alert!!

We received a call from one of our retirees stating that he received a call from a person portraying themselves as an AFSCME representative.  This person went by the name of Glen and his phone number was 608-0173.  Glen insisted that he needed to come to the retirees house to sign some paperwork.  Thankfully the retiree knew better than to have anyone come to his house.  The retiree asked that the paperwork be sent to him if a signature was necessary but Glen stated that he could only bring this to the home.  The retiree ended the conversation without allowing him to come to his home. 


Is this something you could bring up at one of your CMERA meetings?   Or perhaps post a warning on your web page for retirees to beware of these types of scams.  We will be posting an alert on the Retirement web site. 



A Letter to Retirees Regarding Agreement Questions

January 17, 2015


Fellow Retiree:


There have been questions and concerns raised that I feel that I need to respond to from some of you.  Before I do that I would like to inform you that our team has been working hard to take steps to keep as many benefits as we can unchanged. We are working on now are some of the detail items for the consent decree trying to protect us from any misinterpretations from anyone years to come with regard to what we are agreeing to.


I would first like to have you reflect back on where are at and how we got here. The system is underfunded on the pension trust side and the city has decided only to contribute dollars, less than is required, to the pension trust. The “current” status of the healthcare trust is slightly over 100%.


With the city not making its required contributions to the pension trust the bottom line is there WILL NOT be sufficient funds in the pension trust for it to be solvent for 30 years.  That translates into at some point the pension trust will run out of money and we (meaning members of our group who live to that point) would no longer get a pension check.


With the City not contributing to the healthcare trust there are some concerns with that trust as well for us and future retirees. Like most things when there is a hole and nothing used to stop the leak from the hole it will eventually bleed out as well unless something is done.  The City knows that it can stop providing healthcare benefits so they are not concerned about the healthcare component any longer.  We retirees on the other hand have concerns about healthcare as indicated by the many responses that we received.


In mediation we tried to address both needs that retirees indicated in their responses to us. Locking into healthcare and stabilizing our pensions.


Some of you have argued that our pensions are protected.  I agree with you and so did Judge Nadel. Some argue that our pension that are protected included our cost of living increases. I agree with you, but Judge Nadel did not go as far as state that as a fact. There have been cases argued in many courts recently that have sided with the fact that the cost of living adjustments (COLA) is not included as being protected.  A few have agreed that it was. So if we were to take a risk and say we are going to fight any changes to our cost of living adjustments and argue that it is part of our pension as we were promised we would be in the court system for several years and need to raise a half million dollars plus with no guarantee of a victory at the end of the proceedings.  In the meantime, the City would implement the changes and take some more of our healthcare benefits away leaving us with fewer dollars to pay the increasing healthcare costs.


Some of us retired with a 3% simple COLA and others retired with a 3% compound COLA. If we fought for giving us what we left with everyone would not necessarily be happy with that decision. Those who left with the 3% simple would argue that the excess funds in the system were used to support their right to the compound COLA so the money was there and they were getting the short end with us supporting that approach.  Remember, as members of the mediation team we had to think about the fairness to all members of the team and not be concerned about our particular situation.


I agree with all of you that this is not a fair situation that the City has put us in. It is morally wrong and possibly legally wrong depending on the legal outcome.  But in reality that is the situation that we are in.  We are between a “rock and a hard place” as the expression goes. Most of the people who are very outspoken about what is going on put little money towards our first legal fight and I suspect they would put little money into the pot if we had another.

Putting all of this in mind our legal team wanted to stabilize our healthcare, as indicated above that could be abolished, as well as our pensions.


To many of you any type of concession is not good. We were going to be forced to take a concession no matter if we agreed to it or not. So the point is which concession would provide us with the best stability for all of our needs and hurt us the least.


We knew going from a compound COLA to a simple COLA would be a big hit on our pensions. In particular if we live 10 to 20 more years.  Likewise if we would experience any major changes in our healthcare the increased cost would be a major hit for many of us retirees who are currently experiencing poor health. (The reality is the longer we live eventually most of us see the medical providers more often. This translates to increasing healthcare cost.)


As I explained in my previous correspondences what we came up with we believe adds some certainty to our retirements.  A certainty backed by a federal court. We have never had that certainty before.  We might have thought we did but we found out in our healthcare case we were misled by those we trusted.


I would like to address some of the questions that were raised recently.




Our current 401(h) healthcare fund and the proposed 115 healthcare fund are both trust funds recognized by IRS.


How can the City change the funding from a 401(h) to a 115 fund?  Through the approval of IRS. The City has been working on this and has the necessary approvals to do this from what we were told.


How can the City take our money that is in the 401(h) fund now and transfer it to the Pension Trust?  The City can do this through the consent decree and were going to do this whether or not we were parties to it or not. The funds would be transferred before the remaining dollars in the healthcare trust moved to the 115 fund trust.


Why is it necessary for this transfer to take place since our healthcare fund is funded over 100% funding?  The problem that we all face is the shortage of funding in our Pension Trust. According to the City’s actuary the funding is not sufficient to keep the fund solvent for all members of the system for 30 years. If the funds were not transferred, eventually the Pension Trust would run out of money and we would be left with no pensions. For those of you who question this move would that be what you would desire for yourself or possibly your spouse with no Social Security and no pension to live on.


We have already heard from the courts that the City could reduce or eliminate our healthcare completely.  This would leave many of us without healthcare in the future.  Is that something we really want? 


As you are aware one of the lawsuits that got us to where we are at was filed by AFSCME that wanted the City to pay their required contribution. That lawsuit is being settled through the consent decree. We all know that over half of the problem with the unfunded liability is attributed to the City’s failure to pay their required contribution. No court in the past held the City to make their contributions.  Had any of you filed a lawsuit against the City for failing to pay their contribution would have cost you approximately $500,000. Do any of you have that kind of money to fight the City?


Many of you keep stating the Ordinances that state that the 401(h) cannot be used for anything else other than for healthcare.  Ordinances are changed every day and the City could get agreement from the IRS and the court to permit them to transfer the funds because of the state of the Pension Trust.  For anyone to fight that would once again cost you approximately $500,000 with no guarantee that you would win the case in court.


Tom Gamel 


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CMERA Newsletter May 2014

For some of us it may be hard to believe, but ….


the groundwork to bring us to where we are today with our diminished health care benefits was started, by the city, some eight or nine years ago.  The city’s failure to provide the required proper funding for the system and a couple of years where the stock market tanked played a major roll in helping to get us to this point.


In an effort to block changes the city made to our health care benefits in January 2010 CMERA, with the support of our membership, has been involved in the court system since December 2009. To date we have not been unsuccessful. 


CMERA filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Ohio on December 21, 2012, and the City filed their reply to the appeal on January 23, 2013. Our appeal questions the ruling by Ohio’s 1st District Court of Appeals that affirmed the judgement of Judge Norbert Nadel, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. Since the court chooses its cases under a discretionary review process we are currently waiting their decision regarding our case. 


The city will be changing the budget from a calendar year to a fiscal year starting July 1, 2013. The Retirement office states they will remain on calendar year bases. As part of the budget process Council passed the following motion.


The Cincinnati Retirement System Board should study the current COLA offered to retirees and report to Council with any recommended changes.” 


The Retirement Board has discussed the COLA issue at their last two meetings and will be reviewing new data at the next meeting on March 7 at 2 PM. If you are interested in what they are doing the meeting is open to all retirees at City Hall, 3rd floor, Committee Room B.


Since Council has already changed the COLA from “Compound” to “Simple” for future retirees they are now considering the same for us. The question as to weather the COLA is part of our pension and therefore cannot be changed may result in another lawsuit. The subject is being tested in courts across the country with different results based on how each law, code or contract is written. Any court action by CMERA would require the approval of the membership and the establishment of a COLA defense fund as we did for the Health Care Benefits.


To show the real value of our current compound COLA the following chart compares the differences between the “Compound” and “Simple” formulas over a period of 30 years. 



If we want to retain our current 3% Compound COLA it’s time everyone gets involved and takes some action. What does that look like?


  1. Call, write, email or even visit the members of City Council and the Retirement 

Board. Let them know how you feel and how a change in the COLA amount will

effect your life.  

Board  members:


  1. Attend the Retirement Board meetings on the first Thursday of each month in 

Committee Room B in City Hall at 2 PM. You can hear and observe the actions of the Board members on this important issue.


  1. Attend a Special Session of Council in City Hall on February 20, 2013 at 6 PM. 

They will be discussing the Retirement System and our COLA.


The members of Council and the Retirement Board need to see you and hear from you to know that you really care.






Saturday October 17, 2015


Meet-n-Greet at 9:00 AM  -  Meeting Begins at 10:00 AM



First Unitarian Church

538 Linton Street

(Corner of Reading Road and Linton St. near old Bethesda Hospital)

Free Parking


Join other retirees for a time of fellowship and hear an update

on the status of activities regarding your Health Care


Looking forward to seeing you at the meeting


Changes to Retiree Health Care Program

Effective 1/1/2012



The following items that will affect current retirees were included in the motion that was approved by the Retirement Board on 2/3/2011 to be forwarded to Council for action.

No changes in the annual 3% compound COLA now being received.

Discontinue the Carve-out Program for retirees that receive less than $30,000 pension 

Retirees will not be reimbursed for Medicare Part B premiums.

All other recipients of CRS retiree health care coverage will not be reimbursed for Medicare Part B premiums.

All retiree healthcare benefits are to be provided through the Blue Access 80/20 plan.

Retirees hired prior to1/9/1997 will be required to pay the same percent of premium as active employees. The percentage will apply to pre-Medicare and post-Medicare retirees.

Retirees will assume 100% of premium costs for dental and vision benefits if they choose to continue coverage.

Reduce the post-retirement Death Benefit from $7,500 to $5,000.

All future employer contributions are to be made to the pension trust and no employer contributions are to be made to the health care trust.


These changes are all subject to council approval

It’s time for you to start letting council members know how you feel about these changes and what affect they will have on your life style.

Discontinuing reimbursement for Medicare B will have an immediate impact on all retirees age 65/+. (Singles $1,200-Couples $2,400) 

Payment of a monthly healthcare policy premium will be costly to all   

Make a phone call, write a letter or send an e-mail

Fellow Retirees


The City of Cincinnati is still planning to greatly reduce your health care benefits, even though the CRS’s investments are doing very well (see your recent CRS newsletter).  So why is the City now planning to take thousands of dollars out of your pocket every year?  And what can you do about it?  CMERA recommends:

1.    Email, telephone or write to City Council Members to express how this decision will hurt you personally (it could cost you +/- $4,000 a year, per person covered).  Continue to contact them until this change is revoked.  
2.    Volunteer to work with CMERA to fight this proposed change to our health care package.  Contact Don Beets, CMERA Past President:  phone at 347-6779, email at or U.S. mail at CMERA, P.O. Box 11026, Cincinnati OH  45211-1026.  We'll need your name, telephone number, and email address so we can contact you.
3.    Contribute money to help defray the cost of additional CMERA mailings to retirees; mail checks (payable to CMERA) to  P.O. Box 11026, Cincinnati, OH  45211-1026.
4.    Volunteer to be considered for serving as a CMERA Board member or committee member.
5.    Verify with CMERA that we have your correct address, telephone number and email address so we can keep you informed (see contact information above), and encourage your fellow retirees to do the same.

Call them!    Email them!    Write them!

Mayor Mark Mallory        801 Plum Street, Room 150, 45202    352-3250

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls        801 Plum Street, Suite 352, 45202    352-3604

Laure Quinlivan        801 Plum Street, Suite 349, 45202    352-5303

Charlie Winburn        801 Plum Street, Suite 351, 45202    352-5354

Wendell Young        801 Plum Street, Suite 348, 45202    352-3466

Chris Seelbach        801 Plum Street, Suite 350, 45202    352-5210

Christopher Smitherman        801 Plum Street, Suite 346A, 45202    352-3464

P. G. Sittenfeld        801 Plum Street, Suite 354, 45202    352-5270

Yvette Simpson        801 Plum Street, Suite 346B, 45202    352-5260

Cecil Thomas         801 Plum Street, Suite 356, 45202    352-3499

Action Alert !!

There are no current action alerts

We MONITOR for You

Stay in Touch !

CMERA has created an EGroup, called CMERA-QT, to better communicate with YOU. What is an EGroup? An EGroup is an electronic method (e-mail) of sending messages to groups of people who have a common interest. One of CMERA's primary objectives is to protect and enhance the pensions and health benefits of Retirees of the City of Cincinnati. We feel very strongly about this objective and we think you do too.

However, events during the past two years have caused us to be very concerned about what may happen to our pensions and health benefits in the future.

When there are significant changes about to be made to OUR pensions or health benefits, we may need to act fast to prevent any negative effects. We may need to organize quickly in front of City Council in order to express our opinions to the Council Members. Or we may need to show the Retirement Board that we are united in our effort to retain the pension and benefits that we have now. Or we may just want to inform you of significant events that are happening regarding YOUR Retirement System or other important items.

The CMERA web page ( will still provide complete information about activities and issues regarding retirement, and the other efforts of the association but depends on you to visit the site for info. However, CMERA-QT will allow us to come to you with fast breaking news.

The EGroup (CMERA-QT) allows us to send e-mails only to all those who sign up for CMERA-QT. This will give you the most up to date urgent information about the Retirement System. There is no cost to you to sign up for CMERA-QT. You will have to provide to us (through the EGroup) your e-mail address. We guarantee that we will not sell or give your e-mail address to anyone else. Your e-mail address will be used strictly to communicate with you about CMERA, the Cincinnati Retirement System or any events related to either organization. You do need to be a City retiree to join CMERA-QT. You do NOT need to be a member of CMERA to belong to the CMERA-QT but we certainly encourage you to join the only organization that is fighting for you.

To join the CMERA-QT, click the link below and it will take you to the YAHOO website. Follow the instructions on the page to become a member of CMERA-QT and be informed about your future.

Welcome to the CMERA Website

Thank you for visiting our website!  We update our pages on a regular basis, so we encourage you to check back frequently.

Congratulations on your Retirement and welcome to the ranks of some 4,900 non-uniform retirees!  We hope that your retirement is long, healthful and fulfilling!

As you enter retirement you’ll find that life is different and that you’ll miss your friends.  Let CMERA help you fill that gap, and keep you informed!  We extend to you an invitation to join the Cincinnati Municipal Employees Retirement Association, to keep you informed about changes in your retirement benefits and to help you maintain contact with your friends.  Please complete the application form, attach a check for the annual membership fee, which is currently ten dollars ($10.00) per year, and mail it to:  CMERA  Membership P.O. Box 11026 Cincinnati OH  45211. Dues are renewable in January of each year, a reminder notice will be mailed around January 15th as a friendly reminder.  Please feel free to pay for multiple years.

Our association, incorporated in 1980 as a non-profit corporation, was created in part to maintain a link between the retirees and the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Retirement System (CRS). Elected CMERA board members attend the CRS Board meetings as well as committee meetings, to maintain our presence and hear firsthand any proposed changes to the retirement system or benefits. We actively apprise/advise the CRS, as well as City Council, of our position as representatives of  CMERA retirees on various matters.   For instance, the Cost of Living Allowance of 3% compounded annually that you’ll enjoy each year as a retiree is a specific benefit for which CMERA successfully lobbied.  Recently, we were active in opposing the proposed medical benefits changes directed at current retirees!

We conduct two semi-annual general membership meetings, one in May and the second meeting in October.  We currently meet in Council Chambers of City Hall, on a Saturday. We also try to maintain a relaxed casual atmosphere during our meetings by offering free donuts and coffee.  As a CMERA member, you will receive meeting reminders of when and where we’re meeting as well as the proposed agenda. We have an informative web site at where you can go to get information on social activates, current news, etc. CMERA members, in good standing, can also vote on issues presented at CMERA meetings.  Our May newsletter is mailed to all retirees, our October newsletter is mailed only to CMERA members.

We look forward to receiving your application and meeting you soon!  If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact me or one of the other CMERA officers and if you provide us with your e-mail address we’ll e-mail you important information as it arises.

Don Beets, President


You can download an application to join CMERA by clicking on the button below.


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Application for Membership

The Organizers of this website have made a strong effort to provide accurate information.  However, the organizers assume no responsibility for factual errors.  Additionally, the views expressed on the Discussion Page are the views of the participants and may not express the views of the organizers.