I am not Atlanta Mayor Mohammad K. Reed’s biggest fan (not by a long stretch), but if he actually follows through on this, I’ll be reassessing my opinions about this man in a huge way.
Officials in Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration told the City Council on Friday morning that they are preparing legislation to dramatically reduce pension benefits for city employees to the level of benefits a decade ago. The move would save millions for the city but is expected to set off an alarm among city workers.
Peter Aman, Reed’s chief operating officer, said during a council budget planning retreat at City Hall that the administration wants to roll back the calculations by which employees get benefits and lengthen the time it takes for an employee to receive full benefits. A city worker would have to work 15 years to get full benefits as opposed to 10 years now. The money they will get would be reduced dramatically. What each employee is paid varies depending upon years of service, rank and other factors, but the factor used to calculate benefits could drop by as much as one-third.
Aman said the mayor felt the city had “to put the tourniquet on the patient” and reduce pensions costs, which have grown exponentially since 2002, when the city increased pensions benefits for police, and 2005, when it increased pension benefits for firefighters and general employees.
Reed said in a meeting Friday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s editorial board that the city must spend less on pensions if Atlanta wants to survive financially. Atlanta’s annual pension spending has risen since 2001 from $55 million to a 2011 projected total of about $125 million.
“The city is on a trajectory to either reform or have some hard conversations by 2017 or 2018 of whether it exists,” the mayor said.
More details here.