Atlanta Mayor Mohammad K. Reed, during his campaign, talked quite a bit about how the city employee pension plans were going to cause serious havoc to the long-term growth of the city. As Mayor Mo said back in February:
“[Pensions are] putting the long-term health of our city in jeopardy,” the mayor said in a recent speech to the Buckhead Coalition.
The next month, in March, he was still singing the same tune:
“Pensions are easily the most significant threat to the city of Atlanta remaining a viable institution,” Reed said. “It’s worse than I thought during the campaign.”
If the issue is left unchecked, he said, Atlanta will be insolvent by 2017 or 2018. The capital of the New South could be without capital.
Last year, the unfunded pension liability ballooned to $1.5 billion. In 2001, it was $321 million.
This week, however, the “tone” has changed:
Atlanta’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman is floating a proposal to the City Council that would allow [Atlanta Police Department Chief George] Turner, 51, to “retire” on paper, but immediately be rehired as chief in order to start collecting his $100,000 pension.
Aman said that because Turner would have retired, he would collect his pension and the $200,000 salary that goes with being police chief. Although he commands perhaps the most significant unit in city government, at least four city employees earn more than Turner.
Aman’s proposal, which has the backing of Mayor Kasim Reed, has not been approved by the council yet.
Hope and change realized, yet again, Atlanta. The Machine™ rolls on.