A bill that would relieve present and future District of Columbia taxpayers of $769 million of the city's pension burden was unanimously endorsed yesterday by the House District Committee.
The bill, Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Calif.) declared, is a partial solution "to the District's foremost fiscal problem" - the fact that it owes a debt to three groups of pensioners that totals $2 billion and is growing.
The measure, which may reach the House floor by May 23, would create three pension funds - for police and fire fighters, for judges and for teachers - and make annual payments into them until the funds' income equaled the outgo. It is estimated that this would occur about 2003.
In the early years, the federal government would contribute more than $47 million annually to the funds, to be matched by contributions from the District and from payroll deductions from city employees.
Pensions for these groups of employees are currently paid from the city's annual operating budgets. By late in this century, without the creation of the funds, pension payments likely would exceed annual active payroll costs.
Other groups of city employees are not affected by the bill. They are covered by federal civil service retirement plans to which the city makes annual contributions.
Before endorsing the bill, the committee rejected a suggestion by its chairman, Rep. Charles C. Diggs Jr. (D-Mich.), that the police-fire fighter fund be split off from the much larger teacher fund. He said there "is some discussion in some quarters" that doing this would ease the passage of the measure.
Rep. Romano L. Mazzoli (D-Ky.), the bill's chief sponsor, joined Dellums and Rep. Stewart L. McKinney (R-Conn.) in rejecting any consideration of a split.
The committee endorsed other bills to:
Require the federal government to pay its water bills to the city in the year they are due, instead of two years later.
Permit the city to continue borrowing temporarily from the U.S. Treasury to maintain its construction programs. The home rule act now authorizes the city to float bonds, but the shift has been delayed by the city's tight financial situation.