Wharton Looks To Alter Employee Benefits To Balance Budget

(Memphis) Memphis City Council members are basking in the calm before the storm.

In less than 24 hours Mayor A C Wharton will present his budget to the city council about how to spend your money.

The budget is tight, and one way politicians are possibly looking to save, is cutting funding to public safety by more than a million dollars.

Councilman Jim Strickland says the biggest point argument is city pensions.

“We are greatly underfunding our retirement plan. The mayor agrees with that, the union agrees with that, and we agree that. Where there is disagreement is what type of retirement plan we should have and how we can pay for it,” said Strickland.

The Mayor’s office is arguing with the police and fire unions over how much the fund is short, even though they all agree it’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The mayor wants to switch to a 401K system, the unions don’t like that idea.

The council will make the ultimate decision and is waiting on its own study.

Wharton has also tossed around the idea of the city no longer paying for retiree medical care if those people can qualify for medicare or another program.

Right now, the city pays up to 70% of medical costs for retirees and some of their relatives.

Tuesday the council will also take up a plan to reestablish the Memphis Police citizen`s review board.

Last week, some community members asked what happened to the board and complained police aren’t being held accountable.

Council members want to know why the review board stopped meeting.

“The board doesn’t have any teeth to come back and give any sanctions, and so that`s one of the things we really need to be looking at. The push-back is the police department doesn’t want any independent group reviewing them and then reporting on their actions. They would rather police themselves,” said Councilman Harold Collins.

Tomorrow starts the near four-month budget process.

Council must approve a final budget by June 30th.

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