Mayor Wharton discusses budget, plans - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mayor Wharton discusses budget, plans

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The mayor says the stock market crisis of 2008 and the resulting recession created a disaster for the city pension fund. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) The mayor says the stock market crisis of 2008 and the resulting recession created a disaster for the city pension fund. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC) - According to Memphis City Mayor A C Wharton, the city protected the pension system for current city retirees and those who will have 10 years service with the city by July 1, 2015.

"The choices are just so limited. There are no good, good perfect choices," said Wharton a day after the budget passed. "Maintain that pension: that's the lifeline. Then when it comes to health care, there are options."

The mayor says the city was forced to increase premiums for retiree and city employee health insurance due to lack of revenue. The decision helps the purses of Memphis property taxpayers.

But city employee unions are livid.

"We don't get paid commensurate with the civilian sector for the job we do. So if you don't have the pension, if you don't have health care, why are you here putting your life on the line," said Mike Williams of the Memphis Police Association.

Is the mayor concerned there might be an exodus of police, firefighters, and paramedics?

"There's always a chance, but I tell you, you don't have to be an expert researcher to see municipalities across the nation in some form or fashion are going through the same things we're going through," noted Wharton.

The mayor says the stock market crisis of 2008 and the resulting recession created a disaster for the city pension fund.

At the same time, property reappraisals cost the city $26 million and then came the court judgement on owing the school system millions more.

"So we have to play the hand that we've been dealt and make the best of it," said Wharton.

Both the fire and police unions say their members have been calling all Wednesday to get assistance for their exit strategy.

Pension reform will be the next big battle in the coming weeks.

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved. 

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