A request for beneficiaries of Macon’s Fire and Police Retirement System to get a $100 per month raise may be sent to that pension board, but there are many stages remaining before it’s known if such a raise is even practical.
Macon City Councilman Ed DeFore submitted a resolution to the council’s Employee Development and Compensation Committee for the city to ask the pension board to check with its actuary about whether giving that raise is affordable.
“They haven’t had a raise in six and a half years,” DeFore said, referring to the 288 Macon retirees now receiving police and firefighters’ pension benefits.
And half of that raise has since been eaten up by increased insurance premiums, he said. Councilwoman Lauren Benedict said she thought the pension hike had been more recent than that, and Human Resources Director Ben Hubbard confirmed that it was in 2008.
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“That’s not six and a half years (ago),” Benedict said.
The previous $100 raise went to retirees who had 25 years service and were disabled on duty, Hubbard said. City retirees do receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living raise every January unless City Council specifically prevents it, he said.
Benedict noted that both of the city’s pension funds -- for police and firefighters, and for general employees -- were required to get big infusions of cash from the city’s general fund to meet state rules.
While the city wants to give its retirees as much as possible, it also must make sure the funds stay solvent “forever,” she said. And the actuary would have to be paid something for researching the raise’s feasibility, Benedict said.
Committee Chairman Charles Jones and Councilman Larry Schlesinger, who both serve on the police and fire pension board, said whether to make that formal request would be for the pension board to decide. Jones said the pension board is mulling the idea.
Councilman Henry Gibson, a retired police captain, agreed that the request should be sent to the pension board. But Jones suggested that Gibson recuse himself from voting on the resolution, since he would personally benefit from an increase in the pension.
Gibson doubted that interpretation, but remained silent when the vote was taken, and DeFore’s resolution passed without opposition.
Hubbard gave the committee a breakdown on the city employees due to transfer to Bibb County control at the end of June, when five city departments move under the terms of a service delivery deal the city and county signed last spring.
One hundred full-time jobs -- five of which are now empty -- and 42 part-time positions will move, Hubbard said.
Of those full-time employees, 37 are eligible for regular or early retirement before the transfer, he said.
Two employees from Inspection & Fees and one from Engineering have told him they will retire before their jobs transfer, Hubbard said.
Answering a question from Councilwoman Nancy White, Internal Affairs Director Keith Moffett said an announcement at 2 p.m. Thursday by Mayor Robert Reichert and Commission Chairman Sam Hart will deal with the employee transfer.
Reichert told city department heads Wednesday morning that it’s the city’s intention to protect those employees, Moffett said.
But nothing has been decided, or even formally offered, regarding their status, he said, including whether they’ll receive credit for city seniority, how their pensions will work or how secure those jobs will be.
Benedict resigned as vice-chairwoman of the Employee Development and Compensation Committee, saying that since she’s chairwoman of another city committee it would complicate Ordinances and Resolutions Committee meetings if Jones is absent.
Ordinances and Resolutions is composed of the chairmen of the city’s other standing committees, so Benedict couldn’t represent both.
She recommended that White replace her as vice-chairwoman of Employee Development and Compensation, and that was accepted unanimously.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.