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Hundreds Convene at Hearing Over Disputed Pension Benefits

Several hundred San Diego city retirees showed up at a hearing today to defend disputed pension benefits worth $150 million.

Hundreds Convene at Hearing Over Disputed Pension Benefits

Several hundred San Diego city retirees showed up at a hearing today to defend disputed pension benefits worth $150 million. The city's pension board admits that a previous board made a mistake in granting the benefits. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

City Councilwoman Donna Frye has called on city employees to give back benefits, called “purchase of service credits,” where an employee can buy years of service to qualify for a pension.

It turns out the price of thousands of those so called “air years” was miscalculated. They've cost the city $146 million.

But labor attorney Anne Smith told the pension board it is too late to take the benefits back now.

Smith : You set the price, they paid it, they took their inheritance, they took money from under the mattress to make a purchase -- you come back years later and say 'by the way, you paid what I charged you but I've decided I should have charged you more.'

The pension board is considering what to do. If they do nothing, the city of San Diego will continue to pay off the $150 million as part of the city's billion-dollar pension debt.

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