Council Members Respond To Wharton Pension Plan

(Memphis) Memphis is hundreds of millions of dollars in the hole, some say due to pension problems.

Some council members refuse to go along with Mayor A C Wharton’s plan to move to a 401k-type system without more information.

Mayor Wharton claims the city’s pension fund took a major hit during the great recession of 2008, cutting the fund more than 70 percent.

He says he has a plan to keep tax payers off the hook if that happens again, but he needs council members’ help, and they’re not so sure they’re not so sure yet.

Wharton says under a 401k-type system, each employee will pay into their own fund over time.

“It would be irresponsible on our part if we jumped into doing something without getting our report back first,” said Councilman Harold Collins.

Collins says a 401k-type program could be an option, but first council has to figure out exactly what the problem is.

The mayor claims pension are more than $600 million in the hole, but the police and fire unions say that number is hundreds of millions less.

The Memphis Police Association claims the mayor is trying to over exaggerate how much the pension fund is short to get what he wants.

“The council has asked an independent actuary to review the numbers and compare both sides of these numbers to come up with an informed decision so we can make a right decision,” said Collins.

Collions says the decision will impact the city for more than a hundred years.

Councilwoman Wanda Halbert says one thing council and the mayor are on the same page about is communicating better with each other.

“Members of the council have been concerned that we’re hearing information that has been given to the public before council members knowing anything about it, and even when we get into the meeting the mayor is presenting information at the time he is requesting a budget,” said Halbert.

Council members called of their work retreat scheduled for this weekend so they can meet with the mayor and explore ways to better communicate.

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