Conway’s more senior fire and police personnel will be added to the Arkansas Local Police and Fire Retirement System (LOPFI), the Conway City Council decided at a special meeting late Monday afternoon.

The council does so at the unanimous request of the pension boards of the Conway Fire Department and Conway Police Department, according to Mayor Tab Townsell, who said that these boards would be dissolved as the administration of these pensions will now fall to LOPFI’s staff and board of trustees.

The reason for the change, Townsell said, include growing concerns as to whether it would be retired fire and police personnel or the city that would be left "holding the bag" should there be insufficient funds to pay future pensions and the "current plan bottoms out."

"It would be a disaster either way," Townsell told the council.

The change will only affect those who joined the departments prior to 1983, and will not alter the pensions’ agreements as to benefits or their transfer to surviving spouses. What it will provide, Townsell said, are the LOPFI assurances that the money paid by the city for their pensions will be soundly invested and that LOPFI would be the accountable party should issues arise.

According to the agreement approved by the council Monday night, which is irrevocable, LOPFI will provide services including determining eligibility, calculating benefits and determining disability status.

Conway Fire Chief Bart Castleberry and Chief of Police A. J. Gary said after the decision that they could see no downsides to the new arrangement.

The council also voted to approve a resolution in support of the Safe Routes to School Grant application, which is intended to improve city infrastructure to better enable children to walk or bicycle to school.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached at 505-1238 or by E-mail at joe.lamb@thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)