MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - To help solve the city's budget crunch, at least three Memphis City Council members propose borrowing $20 million from a fund meant to guarantee retired city workers' healthcare.
Face it. The last thing on most taxpayers mind is paying for retirees' health care. The truth is pulling money out of a fund meant to make sure money is there for retirees might be a very bad idea.
"It doesn't make any sense at all," said city watchdog Joe Saino, who has been watching the Memphis health care retirement fund for years.
Memphis is supposed to have more than a billion dollars in the retirees' health care fund, but in reality the fund contains about $10 million.
Saino said, "They've put a pittance in there in the last three years, now they want to take it back."
City Councilman Jim Strickland says taking the money out won't put retirees in jeopardy. "That doesn't mean the pension system is going to go broke in 5 years, it's a concern in 20, 30, 40 years."
"It's like a lot of politicians think, 'I'll be gone by the time this bill comes due,' so they kick the can down the road as they have been doing for years."
Saino says it's a decision that could put the city and retirees at risk.
"It's a short term solution, a one year solution, and what happens the next year?"
Strickland says if the money is taken out of the fund it will have to be repaid over time. Critics say it's gambling with retiree's futures.