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Department of Management Services

Overview

Table of Contents
Introduction

In establishing Chapters 175/185, Florida Statutes, the legislature declared that it is a proper and legitimate state purpose to provide a uniform retirement system for the benefit of firefighters and police officers. It further directed that such retirement systems or plans be managed, administered, operated and funded to maximize the protection of the Municipal Police Officers Retirement Trust Funds and the Firefighters' Pension Trust Funds.

Florida Statutes require oversight and monitoring of the plans by the Division of Retirement. Those responsibilities include receiving and holding the premium tax moneys collected and disbursing those moneys to the Police Officers and Firefighters' Retirement Plans.

The Municipal Police Officers and Firefighters' Retirement Trust Funds Office, housed within the Division of Retirement, is the state entity responsible for the administrative oversight of local police and fire pension funds in the State of Florida which participate under Chapters 175/185, Florida Statutes. Chapter 175 refers to firefighters' plans and Chapter 185 refers to the police officers' plans. These Statutes provide a means to regulate the minimum pension benefits provided to local police officers and firefighters under these defined benefit retirement plans. There are two types of plans that operate under these statutes: Chapter Plans (plans that adopt the chapter by reference) and Local Law Plans (plans that are created by a special act, local ordinance or resolution that meet minimum standards set forth in ss. 175.351 and 185.35). For both types of plans, the day-to-day operational control of the individual trust funds is vested in the respective boards of trustees created at the local level, subject to regulatory oversight by the Division of Retirement.

Participating cities and special fire control districts are eligible to receive annual distributions of state premium tax collections on property and casualty insurance policies written within the city/district limits or boundaries of the participating plan. The amount of premium taxes collected under Chapter 175 is equal to 1.85 percent of all property insurance written within the city limits or boundaries (in the case of fire districts) of the participating plan. Chapter 185 levies a 0.85 percent tax on all casualty insurance premiums written within the city limits of the participating plan. These amounts are collected by the Department of Revenue and reported on the DR-908 tax return, and then transferred to the Police Officers and Firefighters' Premium Tax Trust Fund at the Division of Retirement. These funds are then available for distribution on or before July 1 to the participating pension plans on an annual basis, once the plan has been determined to be in compliance with all applicable statutory requirements.

Further funding for these plans is provided by employee contributions, other revenue sources and employer contributions. The city (or special fire district) contributions are required to be adequate to meet any funding deficiencies as calculated by the plan's actuary, after all other revenue sources have been considered, and may not be reduced below the amount required to fund the normal cost.

Minimum Plan Requirements
Minimum standards require normal retirement for firefighters and police officers at age 55 with 10 years of service, or age 52 with 25 years of service. The benefit formula must provide at least a 2.75 percent retirement benefit for each year of service, multiplied by average final compensation (based on the five best of the last 10 years' pay). A summary of the minimum benefit provisions is provided below:
Credited Service Total number of years, and fractional parts of years of service with the municipality or special fire control district
Earnings Total cash remuneration - Police
Fixed monthly compensation - Fire
Average Final Compensation (AFC) Average annual compensation of the five best of the last ten years of credited service
Normal Retirement
Eligibility Earlier of: Age 55 with ten years of credited service, or age 52 with 25 years of credited service
Benefit Amount 2.75 percent of AFC times years of credited service
Normal Form of Benefit 10 years certain and life (optional forms available)
Vesting 10 years of credited service
Early Retirement
Eligibility Age 50 with 10 years of credited service
Benefit Amount Accrued retirement benefit, actuarially reduced by 3 percent for each year member's age precedes member's normal retirement date
Disability
Eligibility Day 1 coverage for line-of-duty and 10 years of service for non-line-of-duty
Benefit Amount Accrued benefit, but not less than 42 percent of average monthly earnings (AME) for line-of-duty and accrued benefit, but not less than 25 percent of AME for non-line-of-duty
Non-Vested Refund of contributions without interest (applies only for non-line-of-duty)
Normal Form of Benefit 10 years certain and life (optional forms available)
Death Benefits
Prior to Retirement Less than 10 years of service, beneficiary receives refund of contributions without interest
10 or more years of credited service, beneficiary receives accrued retirement benefit at early (actuarially reduced) or normal retirement date payable for 10 years certain
Post Retirement Benefits payable to beneficiary in accordance with option selected at retirement date
Contributions
Employee 5 percent of earnings (may be reduced by local ordinance / resolution to half of 1 percent)
State Premium Tax 1.85 percent tax on premium for property insurance for fire
0.85 percent tax on premiums for casualty insurance for police
City / District Remaining amount necessary for payment of normal cost and amortization of the accrued past service liability over 30 years
Board of Trustees Two residents appointed by the city / district, two firefighters / police officers elected by a majority of covered members, and a fifth member elected by the other four Trustees serve a two-year or four-year term and may be reappointed / elected.
Primary Responsibilities

Sections 175.341 and 185.23, Florida Statutes, provide that the Division of Retirement shall be responsible for the daily oversight and monitoring for actuarial soundness of the plans, for receiving and holding the premium tax moneys collected and, upon determining compliance with the provisions of these chapters, for disbursing those moneys to the Police Officers and Firefighters Retirement Plans.

Within the Division of Retirement, the responsibility for the aforementioned has been delegated to the Municipal Police Officers and Firefighters' Retirement Trust Funds' (MPF) Office. The major responsibilities include:

  • Review Plan Documents, actuarial cost statements and annual reports to determine compliance with requirements of Chapters 175/185, Florida Statutes.
  • Distribute premium tax monies by July 1 of each year to eligible cities and districts that are in compliance with Chapters 175/185 and Part VII of Chapter 112.
  • Provide support and assistance to cities, fire districts, boards and participants regarding Chapters 175/185, Florida Statutes, through correspondence, newsletters, annual conferences and trustee schools.
Statutory Authority

The statutory authority for the Division of Retirement to administer the municipal police officers and firefighters' pension program is found in Chapters 175/185, Florida Statutes. In establishing these chapters, the legislature declared, in section 175.021 and section 185.01, that it is a proper and legitimate state purpose to provide a uniform retirement system for the benefit of firefighters and police officers and that such retirement systems or plans be managed, administered, operated and funded in such a manner as to maximize the protection of the Municipal Police Officers Retirement Trust Funds and the Firefighters' Pension Trust Funds.

Other pertinent statutory and constitutional authority:

  • Article X, section 14, Florida Constitution "State retirement systems benefit changes. - A governmental unit responsible for any retirement or pension system supported in whole or in part by public pension funds shall not, after Jan. 1, 1977, provide any increase in the benefits to the members or beneficiaries of such system unless such unit has made or concurrently makes provisions for funding of the increase in benefits on a sound actuarial basis."
  • Part VII, Chapter 112, Florida Statutes, entitled, "The Florida Protection of Public Employees Retirement Benefits Act", which provides in part: "Legislative Intent - It is the intent of the Legislature in implementing the provision of Section 14 of Article X of the State Constitution, relating to governmental retirement systems, that such retirement system or plans be managed, administered, operated and funded in such a manner as to maximize the protection of public employee retirement benefits ... This act hereby establishes minimum standards for the operation and funding of public employee retirement systems and plans."
History of Chapter 175/185 Program
1939 - Municipal Firefighters' Pension Fund created by Chapter 19112, Laws of Florida.
1953 - Municipal Police Officers' Pension Fund created by Chapter 28230, Laws of Florida, municipalities were required to certify to the Department of Insurance that their city complied with sections 175.041 and 185.03, Florida Statutes, by having an organized fire or police department which owned or used equipment valued at a specified dollar amount. Upon receipt of certification, the Department of Insurance remitted premium taxes.
1957 - Legislature directed the Department of Insurance to conduct a survey of the various plans to determine if state moneys were being used properly and if plans were operated on an actuarially sound basis. The survey pointed out that many plans were not actuarially sound and the state moneys were not being used properly.
1959 - The Legislature gave the cities until July 1, 1964, to comply with the state statutes pertaining to minimum funding in order to continue receiving state premium tax moneys. Major changes were made in the law to require that the plans be funded on an actuarially sound basis and that the cities report annually to the Department of Insurance to ensure that plan funding was maintained on a current basis.
1963 - Completely revised Chapter 175 (superseded older version). Defined AFC as average of "ten best contributing years of last 15 years". Clarified benefits not subject to execution, attachment or assignment. Specified that certain sections were applicable to all cities, and that the rest were only applicable to cities not already having a 175 plan. Otherwise, revised provisions to essentially match police plans.
1986 - Minimum benefit levels were raised. The MPF Office is required to monitor benefit improvements as "state moneys are adequate to provide", and to make sure all cities comply.
1988 - Sections 175.101 and 185.08 were amended to change the amount premium tax levied from 2 percent to 1.85 percent for Fire and from 1 percent to 0.85 percent for Police.
1992 - Legislature provides that half of the increase in state premium tax moneys provided under Chapters 175/185, Florida Statutes, may be used to establish a Retiree Health Insurance Subsidy Trust Fund. The MPF Office was given additional duties that included reviewing annual reports and plan documents to determine compliance with chapter provisions and eligibility for state premium tax moneys.
1993 - The MPF Office, along with all existing duties and responsibilities, transferred to the Division of Retirement. In addition, oversight is extended to the Special Independent Fire Districts that are now eligible to participate under Chapter 175, Florida Statutes. The MPF Office was also given the responsibility of identifying for the Department of Revenue those municipalities and special fire control districts that are eligible for a redistribution of moneys transferred to the Supplemental Compensation Fund as provided in section 633.382 (4)(c)2, Florida Statutes.
1995 - Legislation passes which transfers all Chapter 175/185 premium tax moneys from the Insurance Commissioner's Regulatory Trust Fund (Department of Insurance) to the Division of Retirement; thus all aspects of administering Chapters 175/185, are once again housed within one state agency, the Division of Retirement. Additionally, cities and special districts are allowed to revoke their election to participate in the Florida Retirement System. Any city or fire district that chooses to opt out is required to provide a retirement plan for its police officers and firefighters hired after Jan. 1, 1996, that meets or exceed the "Chapter" plan benefits under Chapters 175 and 185, Florida Statutes.
1998 - Legislation passes amending and revising the provisions of section 175.071, and 185.06, Florida Statutes, related to the general powers and duties of the board of trustees to require that all plans have a performance evaluation of their professional money managers and revised the investment provisions providing greater investment latitude and including a provision allowing the board to invest up to 10 percent of the plan assets in foreign securities.
1999 - Legislation passes amending and revising the provisions of Chapters 175/185, Florida Statutes, for the primary purpose of providing for the uniform application of minimum benefits and standards to all police and fire pension plans receiving funding from the State. In addition to general clarification of the statutory provisions, the legislation defines "Chapter Plans" and "Local Law Plans", clarifies terminology relating to "sole and exclusive" use of premium tax funds and "extra benefits", dissolves general plans, except for a " supplemental plan municipality", and provides for transfer of assets to a police or fire only plan or a combined police and fire plan.
2002 - Legislation passes amending the provisions of Chapters 175/185 with regard to the makeup of the board of trustees and the plan's termination for closed plans only.
2004 - Provides a short title in memory of Marvin B. Clayton, former Bureau Chief of the Municipal Police Officers and Firefighters' Pension Office and steadfast advocate for police officers and firefighters; provides for the establishment of a premium tax database by the Department of Revenue beginning with the 2005 calendar year; includes a clarification that the increases in state premium tax revenues over and above the amount collected for the calendar year 1997, are to be used first to meet the minimums and then to be used for "extra benefits" over and above those provided to general employees and in addition to those in existence for firefighters and police officers on March 12, 1999 (the effective date of Chapter 99-1, Laws of Florida); and adds a provision allowing retirees to provide authorization to the Board to make certain deductions from his monthly pension check.
2005 - Amends sections 175.041 and 175.101, allowing municipalities that have entered into an interlocal agreement to provide fire protection services to a neighboring municipality to be eligible to receive the neighboring city's state premium tax moneys as long as the interlocal agreement is in place. The municipality receiving the fire protection services must pass an ordinance levying the premium tax and a copy of the interlocal agreement and levying ordinance must be provided to the Division.
2009 - Amends sections 175.032(4)(c) and 185.02(5)(c), providing cities/districts the option of allowing members to purchase prior service as a police officer or firefighter for federal, other state or county service; sections 175.061 and 185.05, to allow cities/districts to expand the term of office of the board members from two to four years, expands board's option to allow retirees to direct payment for various types of insurance; sections 175.071 and 185.06, to expand the foreign investment limit from 10 percent to 25 percent on a market value basis and clarifies that this restriction may only be changed by an amendment to the general law, requires the Board to identify and report any direct or indirect holdings in scrutinized companies and divest by Sept. 2010; sections 175.171 and 185.161, to clarify that a retiree may change his joint annuitant up to two times; sections 175.361 and 185.37, to clarify that if the plan is terminated, the members' accrued benefits are nonforfeitable and that the city/district must provide the necessary funding.
2011 - Amends sections 175.032(3) and 185.02(4), the definition of salary to specify that after the effective date, the plan may include up to 300 hours of overtime, but for service earned after the effective date, excludes overtime in excess of 300 hours, and excludes any payments for accrued unused sick or annual leave. Allows plans with 40 percent or higher representation of employee members to change the designated City resident appointee to any resident appointee. Allows the employees’ contributions to be increased by consent of the members’ collective bargaining agent, or if none, by majority consent of the members.
2013  - Required all local government pension plans to make specified additional actuarial disclosures to improve the transparency of plans’ actuarial health. Clarified that funding shortfalls in local retirement systems are not financial obligations of the state.
2015  - Amended 112.63, Florida Statutes, requiring all local government pension plans to use updated mortality table assumptions that were used by FRS in either of its two most recent actuarial valuations.
Substantial rewrite of Chapters 175/185 requiring all plans to meet chapter minimum benefits and standards as a condition to receive insurance premium tax revenues, with certain exceptions, and increased the minimum benefit accrual rate from 2.00 to 2.75 percent for all  years of credited service. Required each plan to establish a defined contribution plan component to coexist with the base defined benefit plan component. Required creation and disclosure of detailed accounting reports of expenses and administrative expense budgets. Provided the ability for plan members and the plan sponsor to “mutually consent” to the use of premium tax revenues. In the absence of mutual consent, the statute established a default application of the premium taxes
Please note that the information on this page is intended to provide a basic summary of some of the provisions of Chapters 175/185 and the operations of the Municipal Police Officers and Firefighters' Retirement Trust Funds Office. Nothing contained herein will take the place of, or supersede, the provisions contained in Chapters 175/185, Florida Statutes, or the local ordinances of the participating pension plans. Please refer to the Statutes and/or local ordinances for actual provisions.