Appeal from the District Court of Ward County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable M. Richard Geiger, Judge. AFFIRMED.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]
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Opinion of the Court by VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
[¶1] John Klug and Bob Barnard appeal from a summary judgment dismissing their action alleging the City of Minot ("City") unlawfully merged the police and city employee pension plans. Klug and Barnard claim the City did not have the authority to combine the two statutorily created pension plans, the City's powers under its home rule charter do not supersede the protections for police pension plans under N.D.C.C. ch. 40-45, and the City discontinued the police pension plan without following statutory procedures. We affirm.
I [¶2] Since approximately 1942, the City of Minot has maintained separate police and city employee pension plans and funds. City ordinances set out the terms of each pension plan. In 1972, the City adopted a home rule charter and began operating as a "home rule" city.
[¶3] In 2004, the Minot City Council decided to contribute at equal rates to the police and city employee pension funds. In July 2007, the City Employee Pension and Police Pension Board began discussing merging the two plans and their funds. In August 2007, the City Council defeated a motion to merge the two plans. In July 2008, the issue was raised again and the City Council approved an ordinance which repealed the ordinances for the separate plans and re-enacted and merged the two plans in a new ordinance, entitled Employees' Pension Plan. Under the new combined pension plan the benefits, pension amounts, rules for vesting and payment remain the same for members of the police pension as they were under the separate plan. Before the plans were merged, the police pension fund had a net surplus and the city employee pension fund had a net liability.
[¶4] Klug and Barnard are police officers and contribute to the pension fund. In December 2008, Klug and Barnard brought an action against the City alleging the City violated state statutes by merging the two pension plans. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment and did not dispute the material facts. After argument on the motions, the district court granted the City's motion, dismissed Klug and Barnard's claims with prejudice, and awarded the City costs. The court ruled as a matter of law the City acted within its authority under the home rule charter to merge the two pension plans, the merger did not result in a discontinuation of the police pension plan or ...