Council members get earful on alternatives to health cuts for employees

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some came with a simple message, others with an elaborate budget breakdown, but they all came in support of Memphis city employees.

Victor Raspa pointed to one money saving solution. “We need to freeze the PILOT subsidies for 5 years. We are all in trouble. We are all in this.”

Raspa said freezing the program that gives businesses tax incentives to move or stay here would save Memphis $42 million dollars alone.

That’s almost exactly what changes to city employee benefits are saving.

Next year, another $30 million will be needed.

But some council members said current incentives are a done deal and they can’t go back on their word.

Other council members however pointed out that’s exactly what they’re doing to employees and retirees.

Stacey Chaudoin is married to an injured police office said, “Y’all can do graphs all day long. If y’all want money somewhere you can put it somewhere. And you should put it toward the retirees.”

Another popular Idea was budget cuts and more time for ideas.

Former city council members Carol Chumney and TaJuan Stout Mitchell suggested 10% cuts across every department saying it should net about $60-million in savings.

Carol Chumney said, “It seems that the cuts with the tax increase would spread this out amongst more people instead of just one group of people.”

Another idea is asking the state for more time to solve this pension crisis.

As of July 1st, governments in Tennessee must fully fund their pension programs within six years.

Stout-Mitchell added, “I think they may see that as reasonable. That you are putting good faith effort toward meeting your own plan.”

Others pointed to the mayor’s lengthy list of appointed employees.

Raspa said, “Weve got 400 political positions appointed by the mayor. A lot of the positions have $80,000 salaries and above each year.”

Some ideas were focused on keeping consumers in Tennessee instead of hopping the bridge to Arkansas and Mississippi.

Daniel Henry explained, “The city of Memphis has a ban on fireworks. We need to lift the ban off the fireworks and keep that revenue in Memphis.”

Councilmen Shea Flynn admittedchanges are needed to the PILOT program but said it is what brings big business and jobs to Memphis.

Flynn said with 10% unemployment in the city, it’s a tough call, “Revoking the PILOT program, there is risk there of companies leaving and losing a lot more jobs. It is a delicate balancing act. It is a very sever challenge. We are not done yet.”

Council members say they were impressed by the presentations and they also think people who presented Tuesday learned this budget balancing isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Man of presentations pointed to minor budget items that could be trimmed.

Council members said those look good on paper but they are dealing with a $78 million dollar funding gap, and they are looking for big picture solutions.

The Segal Company, a human resources consulting firm, found the city pension is underfunded by $467 million.

That contradicts a report commissioned by the firefighters union which put the number at $301 million and a report done by PricewaterhouseCoopers which put it at $682 million.

Recently, the city council voted to have current employees and some retirees pay 24% more for health benefits.

Other retirees could pay double of more for insurance or seek alternatives such as the ACA.

 

26 comments

  • Anthony Prather

    Thank God Carol Chumney is out of office what is she talking about 17-25% property tax that is out of the question.

    • Long Gone

      They also proposed a property tax hike of 17-25% which she estimated would raise $17-25 million.
      A 25 % property tax hike would only bring in 25 million ? Wow. That’s says a lot right there.

  • Anthony Prather

    Increasing property taxes at 17-25% is not a good idea. It may be to the rich but not the poor.

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    Why did Wharton appoint TWO HUNDRED people for librarians???? What are the other 2 HUNDRED positions appointed by same idiot?

  • JIM

    The cream of the crop policemen and firemen will leave the city ranks and you will be left with a less than average police and fire department, just like Detroit. Stupid Stupid City ” Leaders ” Thank God I do not live in Memphis. The implosion has begun.

      • Karen

        Tell me more about these DREAM BENEFITS You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about Educate yourself before you make stupid comments.

      • Christina

        Do you mean the “Dream Benefits” mostly paid by employees out of their own checks? The “Dream Benefits” that cost this city less than any other city in the nation because our employees pay for most of it out of the money they EARN unlike everyone else? Have you any clue how much of my husband’s paycheck is gone not including taxes? On paper, it looks like he makes an okay wage, but when you see what he gets to take home, you would be shocked. I work a civilian job, and I bring home a much higher percentage of my pay than he does and my benefits (retirement and health) are better than his. Yeah, he could go get another job easily, but he LOVES his work and this City can’t afford to loose more employees with $$$ worth of training and years of experience.

  • Long Gone

    “Other retirees could pay double of more for insurance or seek alternatives such as the ACA.”
    For those who don’t know. ACA is Obamacare.
    “Council member Jim Strickland said there are currently 400 positions appointed by Mayor A C Wharton, of those Strickland said about two hundred are librarians.”
    Two hundred librarians? How many libraries do you have?
    Raising property taxes is always the answer. Always has been, always will be. This act is so they can claim they tried.

  • J.Caston

    If you have worked for any government entity (city,ccounty, or state) and are receiving a retirement and you take another government job, you forfeit your retirement from your previous position. This should also be retroactive to include the Mayor and all other government employees that are receiving two or more retirement checks and are still employed by a government entity. This would save a great deal of money. If you do not reach work at the second position long enough to receive retirement, retirement from the previous position should be re-enstated .

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    ZEBUB,! WHAT dream benefits???? I have friends who are MPD and never heard them saying anything about DREAM benefits.

    • JudgeMethos

      He’s what you’d call a ‘troll’ on the net. He doesn’t have any proof and is speaking out of his rear to get attention. You can access the benefits package for fir and police online and I wouldn’t call those benefits dreamy by any means. They’re okay but nit good enough for men and women who put their lives on the line constantly.

  • Thomas H. Evans

    As I drive around this city, and especially in the Medical Community I see more Mississippi and Arkansas tags on cars parked at these places than Tennessee. I therefore propose a sales tax so taht all will pay rather than just home owners. I like most people am against any tax increases, but I think if you take a good look at it, at least we can recoup some of these dollars these people are taking back to Mississippi and Arkansas. However, our biggest problem is that we have the wrong people in office to sort this thing out without “always” looking at the Police and Fire Departments to get them out of a hole. What 200 “Appointed” Librarians positions are they talking about? Please notice how A C Wharton “never” include cutting appointed positions, why?

  • Think on this

    The issue is one which everyone should have to share in the cost to help fund. It’s not fair to only affect the Fire and Police Departments. Everyone must share in taking cuts to their pay if necessary to help balance across the board. This comes with a government job. When the revenue is decreased, everyone pays the price. The reality is beyond most people control. For example, many families have left Memphis because of the crime rate and the fears which comes with living in the city. The reason the county is not having the same problem is because a lot of people have left Memphis to move to Shelby County, thus increasing their revenue. As citizens, we must help to decrease the crime rate and make Memphis again a place where people will feel comfortable to raise their families.

  • Bob

    Consolidated Government like Nashville. We don’t need multiple Police,Fire Departments and two complete sets of Government. The State offered to let the City Employees join their pension plan so why not join it. Our Leaders talk to us as if we are childish and fear losing control of the purse strings and power nothing else.

    • Moved to tipton county

      Wow combine Memphis & Shelby County government?? I think we might have more neighbors move To Tipton County!!

      • Bob

        Sadly yes many citizens did take the previous Mayors advice to leave the city if they didn’t like the way things are being done by our City leaders. Most of these people still making a living in Memphis.. If the City goes under all the surrounding communities will suffer if not collapse as well.

    • Christina

      This is not a fallen system. The system would work just fine if they actually followed protocol. It is a system that has been abused to the point where the State has had to step in twice already to slap the hand of the Mayor for unlawful acts. He has yet to follow the State mandate and is still not following the advice of the Comptroller.

  • Bill Zebub

    All of these Booby Babies were promised a DREAM BENEFITS package by a corrupt Politician. You lost suckers, you lost.

  • Jacquelyn Mays

    The freeze on the PILOTS program was the best suggestion I heard. Tax breaks to lure companies here; that turn around and don’t hire Memphians makes no since. Even the emplyoyees they bring with them pay nothing into the tax base because they dont’ pruchase homes in Memphis. They rent apartments or buy outside of the city all together.

  • Phil Cook

    People have a variety of views of the city’s financial situation and is focused on Fire and Police. There are many employees other than fire and police affected by this. 60 firemen calling in sick or 500 police has very little impact. Have 100% of all City employees walk out, lock the city up and you’ll get their attention. I worked for the Memphis Fire Dept. for 30 yrs. and never dreamed I’d ever see this city turn into the crime infested, incompetently run mess it has. It’s a disgrace

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