KARK spoke with an actuary who works with the state pension board who says the fund could be empty in ten years. Jody Carreiro of Osborn, Carreiro & Associates told KARK municipalities are doing everything right according to state law, but even still, some pension accounts across the state are underfunded. To make matters worse, back in 2008 and 2009 the market hit rock bottom and devastated their retirement investments.
Now, Pine Bluff firefighters who've contributed to the accounts for years are worried about the future.
"Nothing is greater than jumping in that truck and turning the lights on, taking off down the street and blowing the horn at everybody," said Captain Steve Robinson.
Firefighting is more than a job, it's a lifelong dream and career Captain Steve Robinson has lived for 32 and a half years.
"You're away from your family a third of your life," he said.
It's been taxing, yet rewarding, but now he's wondering if it will pay off, but will it pay off?
"Everyone looks forward to retiring, now here I am in my later years getting ready to retire and finding out it might not last very long," said Robinson.
For years, Robinson has contributed to his pension under an old plan for employees who started before 1983. There are roughly 75 fire and 83 police retirees depending on the payout because they don't get social security. But now, partly due to the recession, the account is coming up short.
As new city sales tax dollars pour into the department for new equipment for the future, many are asking what will happen to the last generation.
"The number of years they put in, to fail them? The city shouldn't fail them," said firefighter Ernest Demmings.
Under the old plan Robinson will be the last to go, but his legacy will live on through firefighters he's worked with, like Ernest Demmings.
"They trained us. We want to see the best for them and their families and we don't want this to happen to us one day," he said.
Demmings and others who started after 1983 are on the new pension plan, which financial officers say is safe for now.
To save the old fund, the city council voted Thursday to ask voters for a millage increase in the primary election in May. They'll ask for .2 mil for police and fire, if approved that will bring the total to 1 mil for each pension fund.
After three decades of putting his life on the line, Robinson hopes it's not too much to ask.
"You should take care of your people who've taken care of you for several years," Robinson said.
The millage increase will be on the ballot in May. If a home is $75,000, property owners would pay about $6 more a year if it passes.
Officials say the money will help stabilize the pension fund, which should be able to pay out about 30 years.