July 2, 2012
Last Thursday I attended the Memphis pension board meeting at City Hall. On the agenda were several items that caught my attention. Here they are.
- There was a resolution to provide an involuntary service retirement (she resigned voluntarily) to TaJuan Stout Mitchell costing $27,427.44 per year. The former City Council member resigned from the council and took a job at the City of Memphis. Because of the January 2001 pension resolution, she became eligible to retire and receive her pension regardless of age.
- James Palmer asked for and received an ordinary disability retirement from the airport authority after 8 years with a pension of $7899.60 per year.
- Michael Sheppard asked for and received a line of duty disability retirement from the Fire Services after 9 years and 9 months of $30,573.84 per year. Two of three doctors said that he had low back pain with degenerative discs caused by on the job work. The other doctor said that it was not job related.
The reason I pointed this out is that they are illustrative of the pension problems at the City of Memphis. The January 2001 pension resolution has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. It was a disaster. When on the city council, TaJuan Stout Mitchell said “that it is difficult to measure the recruiting benefits of the early option until more top administrators leave and need to be replaced. We’ve only had an opportunity to recruit two people to those directors position. If you have good qualified people inside (government), then there is no need to go outside.” At the same time Rickey Peete said time will tell if the change was a good one. Apparently the City of Memphis did not have good qualified people inside, hence they hired Ms. Mitchell.
Now concerning the two disability retirements, one is ordinary and one is line of duty. I spoke to the pension board and asked if the two were informed of the pension ordinance provision concerning earning outside income and the possible effect of the outside income might have on their disability payment. I was particularly concerned about the line of duty disability retirement as they receive 60% of their final average salary tax free for life whereas the ordinary disability recipients get only 25% of their final average salary. I pointed out that the pension ordinance reduced the amount of disability payments to ordinary disability recipients and line of duty disability recipients by the amount of their outside earnings. However they said that this provision applies only to ordinary disability people but does not apply to line of duty disability people.
WHAT!! What could be more unfair? Over 400 and growing line of duty disability recipients costing the taxpayers over $12 million per year and just 137 ordinary disability recipients. And the pension ordinance excludes the line of duty disability recipients from reducing their payments if they are earning money on the outside as many of them are, such as Representative Curry Todd and others.
In addition to the above amounts, we also pick up 70% of their annual health care premiums for life. This is thousands of dollars per year each. This is a rigged game with the Memphis pension board loaded with their coworkers. This needs to be changed so that an independent insurance company handles these claims as the County does and the reduction of payments caused by outside earnings which applies to ordinary disability recipients should apply to line of duty disability recipients. Let your City Council member know you want a change.
Mayor and City Council email addresses and telephone numbers
Bill.Morrison@memphistn.gov, email@example.com, Harold.Collins@memphistn.gov, Wanda.Halbert@memphistn.gov, Jim.Strickland@memphistn.gov, Edmund.Fordjr
@memphistn.gov, Lee.Harris@memphistn.gov, Joe.Brown@memphistn.gov, Janis.Fullilove@memphistn.gov, Myron.Lowery@memphistn.gov, Kemp.Conrad@
memphistn.gov, Shea.Flinn@memphistn.gov, Reid.Hedgepeth@memphistn.gov, Mayor
Bill Morrison, 5766786, Bill Boyd 5767012, Harold Collins 5766786, Wanda Halbert 5765786, Jim Strickland 5766786, Edmund Ford Jr 5766786, Lee Harris 5767010, Joe Brown 2744724, Janice Fullilove 5766786, Kemp Conrad 5766786, Shea Flinn 5766786, Reid Hedgepeth 5766786
Mayor A C Wharton 5766000