A move the new government must take

December 21, 2012 

Consolidating two governments, Bibb County and the city of Macon, is complicated and there are costs associated -- about $577,000 with more expected -- to make the two governments one.

The bulk of the funds will come from city and county pocketbooks, NewTown Macon has already committed $50,000 and the Knight Foundation may kick in another $62,000 to pay for public engagement costs.

As the various committees meet, one of the most important items hopefully moving forward in the consolidation task force’s human resources committee, are pension costs. Those working for the governments will stay with their plans and have nothing to be concerned about. However, new employees of the consolidated government should be offered a defined contribution pension plan such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457. This would follow the path many businesses have taken for very good reasons.

Adopting a new plan for future employees is the right step to take. It will keep the new consolidated government out of the mess cities and counties, such as Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth Lakes, Calif., found themselves in -- and they were not alone. Central Falls, R.I., Jefferson County, Ala., home to Birmingham, Harrisburg, Pa., and Boise County, Idaho, were in the same leaking bankruptcy boat. One of the biggest reasons? Pension plans that promised benefits taxpayers could no longer afford. Now is the perfect time to adopt a new strategy that will go far to ensure the new government’s viability.

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