On 1/26, Council President Ronnie Fussell made good on his word to the FOP and added the Corrections Officers pension bill (2008-983) to this week’s Council Committee meetings. At today’s (2/2) Council Rules Committee meeting, the committee voted to amend the bill. The amendment excepts the corrections officers pension bill from the requirement that pension plan enhancement must be 90% actuarially funded in order to be introduced and approved. The amendment was approved by voice vote. The Rules Committee then took up the bill as amended. The bill passed out of committee 5-1 with Clay Yarborough casting the lone vote against the measure.
Later in the day, the Council’s Finance Committee took up the measure. This time the bill passed 6-1 – again with Clay Yarborough passing the sole vote against the measure. But this doesn’t necessarily indicate that the bill will sail smoothly through City Council. Any exceptions to the actuarial funding requirements can only be approved by Council after a public hearing and a 2/3 majority vote.
In addition, there was alot of tightrope walking by numerous council members during both committee meetings with some of them clarifying that a vote to move the bill out of committee did not necessarily signify their support of the measure. Webb in particular seem a little more interested in ensuring that this monkey got off of his back and on to the back of the full Council during the Rules Committee meeting as he repeatedly asked for reassurance that amending the bill to allow an exception to the 90% actuarial funding requirements still meant it had to have a 2/3 vote of Council for approval. Corrigan was unashamedly enthusiastic in his support for the measure during Finance Committee meeting, though. However, it appeared as if many of the Council members were merely looking for safety in numbers.
In between the two committee meetings, the Office of General Counsel determined the public hearing on the bill could be held at the next City Council meeting (February 9th), and Council would be able to vote on the measure then.
It will take 13 Council members voting “yes” next Tuesday night to pass the bill to allow corrections officers to retire with 20 years of service at any age with a guaranteed annual 3% cost of living adjustment. Let’s see if Council members are willing to break the pension fund and the City’s budget in order to approve a deal agreed to by the Mayor’s staff in better days…..a deal City Council was not a part of, nor one they are required to approve.
BTW, kudos to Clay Yarborough for publicly taking a stand during Committee meetings and not hiding behind the safety of full Council proceedings.