Macon will put $1.2 million into police and firefighter pensions for the remaining six months of this fiscal year, beginning to redress a long stretch of underfunding, City Council decided Tuesday.
The ordinance passed 14-0, with Councilman Rick Hutto absent. Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, who voted against the measure in committee only a day earlier, said that negative vote was only to register two concerns.
The city should have made this payment long before, while spending “all that other money” on lobbyist fees and legal expenses for downtown redevelopment plans, she said. Also, she wants to know if council members can obligate future elected officials to pay the money back into city funds, as the ordinance calls for, Lucas said. She voted for the final ordinance because the pension payment must be made, she said.
The ordinance, sponsored by Councilmen Mike Cranford and Charles Jones, meets an actuarial requirement to put in far more money than in previous years. The required contribution to keep the fund solvent long-term jumped to 16.44 percent after a biennial actuarial review found that the value of its investments had fallen sharply while more retirees were drawing sizable pensions. Much of that value has been recovered, but the required contribution won’t change until after another actuarial study this summer.
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Meanwhile, the city has to make up for nearly two years of underfunding plus 8 percent interest, a total of about $4 million so far.
Getting unanimous agreement was purchase of 30 new Ford Crown Victoria police cruisers from Riverside Ford for $643,729.20, or $21,457.64 per car.
Riverside’s bid was the lowest of seven close bids, but it doesn’t include equipment such as light bars.
A proposed ordinance calling for stricter standards for “dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs,” sponsored by Councilman Lonnie Miley, is going back to committee.
Though approved by the council’s Public Safety Committee on Dec. 13, the measure didn’t make it through a subsequent Ordinances and Resolutions meeting since not enough supporters showed up, Miley said -- including himself. It will go through the committee process again, but without changes, he said.
According to the proposal, dogs with a record of biting or chasing people in a “vicious or terrorizing manner” could be deemed dangerous by an animal control officer. Owners of such animals could appeal to the Macon-Bibb County Board of Health, but if unsuccessful would have to buy a special registration tag for $100, post warning signs, keep the dog enclosed or restrained, and buy $15,000 liability insurance and a $15,000 surety bond.
To be classified as dangerous a dog would have to have caused serious harm, but that would be negated if it had been provoked, or was defending its owner or territory, according to Animal Control Director Jim Johnson.
A 10 percent increase in the city waste management fee will go through the same repeat cycle as the dog ordinance, heading back to the Public Works and Engineering Committee.
Cranford is sponsoring the ordinance, hoping to establish a landfill closure fund with the predicted $350,000 to $400,000 in annual proceeds.
The garbage fee, now $15 per household per month, or $10 per month for Macon Housing Authority residents, would rise to $16.50 and $11 respectively, according to the ordinance.
In the wake of a new city pay plan’s approval by a divided council, members Lucas, Jones and Miley are backing a resolution to have the Carl Vinson Institute of Government -- author of the original study on which the pay plan was based -- review job classifications and set up an appeals process for city employees dissatisfied with their designated pay grade. The matter is being referred to the council’s Employee Development and Compensation Committee.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.