MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Time is running out for Memphis to decide on how to spend your tax money, and the people in charge don’t seem to be in a hurry.
A budget must be ready in less than a month, and council members already passed on recommending any sort of changes to health care or pension plans.
Mayor A C Wharton’s administration laid it all on the line Tuesday. They said the bottom line is either benefits will be cut or taxes will go up.
Tuesday’s city council meeting was a war of words over healthcare and pension plan talks for Memphis city workers.
Council member Joe Brown said, “The administration has brought something to the table that is so fraudulent, that it’s corruptible in nature.”
For a change, all council members agreed on something – none of them like Mayor Wharton’s plan to increase how much city workers will have to pay for healthcare, or insurance surcharges for spouses and tobacco use.
City Council Chairman Jim Strickland said, “We probably need an increase in insurance premiums, but it can’t be 57 percent.”
Council members also talked about the controversial idea to move city workers with less than ten years on the job off the typical pension plan and onto a more defined 401K type system.
“That decision will actually be made after this budget vote, which is in two weeks,” Strickland said.
With arguments flying back and forth, nothing was voted on.
A decision on healthcare got pushed back two weeks.
Either way, City Administrator George Little said something must give. Taxes are going up or benefits are going down.
“This year we have an $11 million deficit. Next year that deficit will go to $23 million. I will point out we have a ruling from the state of Tennessee saying, we’ve got to cover that tab as we go.”
Council members say they pushed back talks on the insurance plans to allow more citizens to weigh in on the decision.