(Memphis) It’s a matter of trust. That’s why one member of the Memphis City Council says it needs an outside opinion on how to solve the city’s pension crisis.
The mayor says the city’s current pension plan will bankrupt the city, but not everyone agrees.
The council believes bringing in yet another expert is worth the city’s investment.
“We don’t know the questions to ask. If you’re going to have brain surgery, you want a brain surgeon,” said Councilman Harold Collins. “If you want accurate information on how to solve Memphis’ pension problems, hire your own financial experts.”
That’s what Collins wants, because predictions from Mayor Wharton’s administration and the unions don’t match up.
Collins said, “Somebody has to be wrong.”
Collins wants an independent firm to look at Wharton’s plan to blow up the current pension system because the council and unions are skeptical about the numbers and threats.
Collins said, “Don’t play games with me, that if we don’t do this deal today, it’s going to blow up in our face and then low and behold we find out that it’s not going to blow up in your face.”
Whether you work for the city or just live in it, Councilman Collins says you’ll be affected by the pension plan and that’s why he says its so important to get the problem solved now.
“You’re looking at possibly a reduction in services. Some outsourcing of city services and increase in your property tax to fund this liability,” said Collins.
The firefighters’ union hired its own financial experts months ago. Those experts used the same set of numbers as the city, but came up with a different answer.
“The bottom line is, you can’t sit out here and promise these employees they’re going to be able to retire with dignity after so many years, then pull it out from under them,” said Thomas Malone with the Memphis Fire Fighters Association.
City council plans on talking about all this next Tuesday.
Collins estimates the cost of hiring an outside firm would cost between $15,000 to $25,000.
However, he said already one firm has offered to do the work for free.