City seeking to halt retirement procedures for city employees in DROP Program

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. --The A C Wharton administration presented a proposal to the Memphis City Council to amend the DROP Program, or Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which allowed employees to postpone retirement and a salary.

Quintin Robinson, who was with Human Resources, proposed the City allow employees who are currently in the DROP Program to freeze their participation and pursue it again whenever they choose.

"Once they freeze their participation, the dollars that have gone into their drop account will sit; it affects the active employee again into the pension plan and when they decide to retire, they can retire or they can go back and resume their place in the drop," he said.

Robinson said many employees, especially those with public safety decided to enter the program because of uncertainty about changes to pension and health care benefits.

"This ordinance change grew out of constant emails from employees who said they entered the DROP Program not understanding that there were going to be changes to health care plan that would impact their 70 percent subsidy once they retired," he stated.

Thomas Malone with the Memphis Firefighters Association says he wanted everything to stay the way it is.

"We think that the plan has worked for all these years. Even though we didn't like some of the issues with the plan, we stuck by them," he said.

Police Director Toney Armstrong said in the next two years, the Memphis Police Department is going to lose more than 150 police officers.

That could impact public safety.

"But certainly we are facing different times now, different times. You have to take different measures and do something creative. If not, I don`t know if we will be able to recover from that massive loss over a two year period," he said.

City Council members said they wanted to have more discussions about this topic before making any kind of decisions.

"You cannot expect this body to make a harsh rash decision because I'm quite sure the administration has known this was going to be a problem long before now," said Council member Berlin Boyd.

Council will take this issue up again in two weeks.


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