State Could Step In On Memphis Pension Problems

(Memphis) There’s a new twist in the future of pension money for city workers like fire and police officers.

One Memphis city council member says the state could step in soon, and that may not be a bad thing.

The city says the fund for retired workers is more than $680 million short, but the unions claim it’s hundreds of millions less.

It may be a new year, but the same old problems are popping up at city hall.

There is no resolution on how much money the pension fund is short, with the mayor’s office saying one thing, but the unions arguing a completely different number.

No solution can be made until an exact number is agreed upon, and that could mean the state stepping in.

Councilman Kemp Conrad’s calls the fiasco an embarrassment.

“The fact that we’ve let it go this long and can`t solve it. You know, I don’t blame them. If I were them, I would not want a bankrupt city that the state now has to get here,” said Conrad.

No word on when exactly the state may step in, but Conrad thinks it’s a good idea.

“We should have been putting in $80 to $100 million of the last several years. We`ve been putting in $20 million so there’s a big gap. So what I think the state will do is mandate that over the next three to five years we get up and fully fund our pension plan,” said Conrad.

Police Association President Mike Williams claims the city is not using national standards for calculations, jacking up the total in a ploy to push a 401k system.

He calls that disastrous.

“After they get all of this quality training in one of the most violent cities in the nation and find themselves marketable, which is what they’re doing now, they’re going to go to other places and take that 401K with them,” said Williams.

Though there’s no exact deadline on when this needs to be worked out, council members seem to think they’ll come to an agreement by budget time this summer.