Memphis councilman calls for fourth study on pension plan - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Memphis councilman calls for fourth study on pension plan

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The Memphis City Council's decision on pension reform is the vote of the century, according to councilman Harold Collins. The Memphis City Council's decision on pension reform is the vote of the century, according to councilman Harold Collins.
Two others studies that project a much lower shortfall were commissioned by the Memphis Police Union and Memphis Firefighters Union. Two others studies that project a much lower shortfall were commissioned by the Memphis Police Union and Memphis Firefighters Union.

(WMC-TV) - There is a call for another study on the city of Memphis' pension plan. Mayor A C Wharton says the plan could put the city in deeper financial trouble.

So far there have been three separate studies on whether the city of Memphis can afford to maintain its current employee pension plan. One Memphis city councilman does not feel comfortable basing his vote on any of them. So now, the city can make way for study number four.

The Memphis City Council's decision on pension reform is the vote of the century, according to councilman Harold Collins.

"This is a decision that will affect our city for hundreds of years," he said.

A decision that is tough to make because of conflicting numbers in three recent studies about the financial stability of the current employee pension plan. That is why Collins wants the council to hire its own pension expert.

"You could make the numbers say whatever you want them to say as long as you have a vested interest in the numbers, but here's a person who doesn't have a vested in the numbers. This person we want to seek the truth," said Collins.

A study conducted by the city's long-time firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers projects close to a $700 million pension fund shortfall, but it does not promise accuracy.

"This information was reported to us, and it might be inaccurate. What does that say?" said Collins.

Two others studies that project a much lower shortfall were commissioned by the Memphis Police Union and Memphis Firefighters Union.

"We stand behind our numbers," said Memphis Fire Fighters Association president Thomas Malone, who welcomes another look."I applaud the council if they want to get to the real bottom of this. I've got no problem. Anything I can do to help them I'm there for them."

Collins says the council's pension study would not just plug in numbers provided by the city but audit them for accuracy.

"If we don't get this one right, then all else fails," he said.

The city administration is standing by their study results.

City Finance Director Brian Collins says Price Waterhouse Coopers has been the actuary for the Memphis Pension Fund for nearly 25 years. He said, "I cannot think of how we could get a more reliable, objective and unbiased evaluation."

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