Memphis Weighs Two Pension Reform Measures

Memphis City Council

The Memphis City Council meets two times in December, and at one of those meetings they are expected to vote on the two pension reform measures that sit before them.

Details on the reform measures, from Memphis Daily News:

One version is Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s proposal that would move new city employees and those with less than 10 years of service to a separate retirement account that equals the unvested employees’ contributions in the existing pension plan plus a multiplier.

The second version, by council member Myron Lowery, would move new city employees only to a pension plan that is the “hybrid” plan Wharton proposed in October for new hires as well as unvested city employees. The hybrid is a combination of a cash balance plan and a defined contributions plan.

The motive behind the reform measures is simple: the city is looking to save money. In particular, it is looking to cut down on its actuarially required contribution, the annual payment it pays to the pension system. From Memphis Daily News:

The city’s target in the new plan is how it affects the city’s annual required contribution toward the pension liability. Joyner estimated that by applying a new pension plan to new hires only, the city saves an average of $2 million a year over 25 years.

There would be more savings on the ARC, as it is called, if the city includes unvested employees with five years or service or up to the 10-year mark, as Wharton has proposed.

“You would have additional savings, but that savings will all be generated by taking benefits from people who are not yet vested in those benefits,” Joyner said.

City Finance Director Brian Collins said the administration is sticking by its recommendation of including unvested city employees as well as new hires.

“If you just stuck with the mayor’s plan, that’s where you get the most savings of $10 million,” he said. “If you just looked at it with five years, it is closer to $3 million or $4 million a year off the status quo ARC.”

The council will hear final readings of the two reform measures during their December 2 meeting.