96% Police Pension Benefit Increase

Following the Large Auto Insurance Increase from Tickets 


During the 1990s, auto insurance premiums were stagnant in Tampa and throughout Florida municipalities, as evidenced by the tax on auto insurance premiums (called Chapter 185 revenue).  The same amount was collected year after year. 

Then, following the “extra” police pension benefit legislation, coupled with new pricing tools developed by the auto insurance industry, Tampa’s 320,000 residents paid $1 billion more in automobile insurance premiums from 2000 to 2009, relative to the 1990s.  In return, the Tampa police received an additional $8 million in auto insurance tax collections (Chapter 185 revenue) that must be used for “extra” pension benefits.  In 2000, the auto insurance industry’s new pricing tools no longer limited the number of underwriting categories.  Instead, insurers began assessing underwriting penalties for every factor that could be penalized.  Thus, a proliferation of tickets yields more surcharges and underwriting penalties that create more “extra” police pension benefits.  This is also true of red-light traffic cameras, as Florida insurance regulators are permitting auto insurance companies to use camera tickets in underwriting, even though Florida law prohibits the use of camera tickets in setting insurance premiums.


In Tampa, a traffic ticket surge began in 1999.  Subsequently, I received two tickets, which are my only tickets in 42 years of driving.  Both were dismissed in court by documenting police fraud.  Over my first ticket, the officer was terminated for untruthfulness.   

My motivation to find the root cause of the ticket surge resulted from finding others who reported being victims of Tampa ticket fraud, as well as Tampa patrol officers who were baffled by police administration’s sudden and aggressive demand for tickets.  What was ultimately discovered is a kickback, created by Florida law in 1999, whereby police officers in municipalities must receive “extra” pension benefits in return for increasing auto insurance rates in their community.  The law incentivizes police administrators to use ticket quotas (and more recently red-light traffic cameras) to increase auto insurance rates, in order to reap larger pension benefits.  The Tampa police achieved a 40 percent pension benefit increase following the large auto insurance increase that trailed their ticket surge. 

Orban v. The City of Tampa was filed in 2004 in an attempt to remedy the perverse practices that led to ticket fraud after City, State and federal officials declined to intervene.  In my lawsuit, the judge did not disclose the evidence of the ticket quotas, the related fraud, or the kickback scheme.  Herein, I provide some of the evidence.  While Tampa changed some policies to better adhere to the law and they began reducing tickets from their highpoint in 2005 (143,000 tickets), they subsequently added a ticket camera program and now produce more tickets than ever before, which are needed to create auto insurance increases to fund the large pension benefit increase, as it is currently unfunded.  The Tampa Police Department remains a leading producer of tickets and arrests (45,000 per year), consistent with a revenue-generating business approach.  They currently produce more than 200,000 court cases per year (tickets, arrests, camera tickets), despite Tampa’s population being only 335,000.   

Automobile Insurance Increase in Tampa, 1999 – 2009


Chapter 185


% Increase

Auto Insurance



Over 1999

Over 1999





























































Following my lawsuit, Tampa police policy changed around 2007.  Officers are now prohibited from writing tickets and crash reports in minor, non-injury crashes in order to conform with other law enforcement agencies.  This, coupled with other potential changes in ticket quotas, resulted in non-criminal moving violation tickets decreasing by 37% since their peak in 2005.  Chapter 185 revenue reverted back to 2002 levels – evidence of the link between tickets and auto insurance rates paid. 

Tampa’s “Extra” Police Pension Benefit

From 1999 to 2003, annual auto insurance premiums paid in Tampa had increased by 40 percent.  In the 2004 Florida legislative session, Tampa’s Mayor Pam Iorio lobbied for and achieved a 40% pension benefit increase for police officers and firefighters (who receive “extra” pension benefits from a similar tax on property insurance called Chapter 175 revenue).  The pension multiplier was increased from 2.5 to 3.15 (26% increase), and 300 hours of overtime became pensionable (14% increase).  Tampa police officers explained the pensionable overtime was an incentive for police officers nearing retirement to write traffic tickets, as overtime is easily achieved through traffic ticket hearings (three hours of overtime is guaranteed per off-duty traffic court hearing).  

However, the “extra” $8 million collected in Chapter 185 funds over the 10 year period (2000 – 2009) is grossly inadequate in funding a 40 percent pension increase, as it amounts to only $8,000 per officer over the 10 year period ($8 million divided by 1,000 Tampa officers).  As such, the Florida Division of Retirement estimated the 40 percent pension benefit increase would require a doubling to tripling of employee and City contributions to the pension, as the benefit was not pro-rated.  For example, in 2004, eligible police officers could immediately retire with the large pension increase, even though the increase was unfunded.  Employee contributions were estimated to increase from an average of 6% of salary to 12-17%, and City contributions were estimated to increase from an average of 8% to 16-23% of member salaries.  Despite this, the doubling of employee and City pension contributions occurred for only two years, and then contributions were reduced to 1% and 2% – meaning the pension was not being funded, despite promises made to the legislature.

To make matters worse, Tampa’s Mayor Pam Iorio provided large salary increases to police officers, estimated to be about 40 percent over 5 or 6 years.  Thus, police officer pensions were nearly doubled under Mayor Iorio.  Officers received a 40 percent salary increase, plus the 40 percent pension benefit increase, coupled with a 40 percent pension increase on the 40 percent salary increase (16 percent), totaling a 96 percent pension benefit increase (40% + 40% + 16% = 96%). 

The near doubling of pension benefits is illustrated by Tampa’s police chiefs.  Chief Bennie Holder retired in 2003 without the salary increase or “extra” pension benefit.  His annual pension is $65,000.  In contrast, Chief Steven Hogue retired in 2009, following the salary increases and with the “extra” pension benefit.  His annual pension is $126,000.  However, the 94 percent increase between the two pensions has not been funded.

This also reveals a peculiarity with public sector pensions.  If police administrators receive the same pension benefits as police officers, then police administrators will support union efforts to increase benefits, in contrast to “management” opposing the added expense, as occurs in the private sector.