El Paso could alter its annual contributions to the city’s public safety pension plan without seeking voter approval under a bill filed last week with the Texas House Pensions Committee by Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso.

HB 2136, which applies only to El Paso, would allow the city to adjust its contributions every year with council approval, Pickett said. An identical bill has been filed in the Texas Senate by Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso.

The West Texas city put an additional $210 million into the police and firefighters pension fund in 2009, but the retirement plan currently is facing a $270 million shortfall. State law currently requires changes in the amount of the annual contributions to the fund to be presented to voters as a charter amendment.

The El Paso City Council barely endorsed the pension reform legislation. The council deadlocked, 4-4, before Mayor John Cook broke the tie with a vote in favor.

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