Call it the "contribute when and where we can plan." That's the approach the City of Springfield is taking to address it unfunded liability for police and fire pensions.
Springfield Budget Director Bill McCarty
That, along with headcount reduction, are some of the goals from Mayor Mike Houston's administration, but more aldermen are saying that may not be enough.
McCarty says the hard solution is either make significant cuts or increase taxes, something aldermen say there would be little support.
He also notes that Springfield is in far better shape than most other units of government and he worked to dispell the myth that the city has taken pension holidays, somethign the state is accused of doing. But, McCarty says future projections indicate a possibility that pension funds could eventually use up all incoming property taxes.
The Houston administration says that the best the city can responsibly do is contribute $1 million in the coming fiscal year budget. Once the city realizes an expected 2.5 million budget surplus, McCarty says the mayor will request another million dollars be contributed to the pension fund in the coming fiscal year.
Alderman Joe McMenamin, who has advocated pay freezes for city employees as a way to help ease the pension burden in the future, says the Mayor's plan will be a drop in the bucket and doesn't go far enough.
McCarty gave a presentation about the city's pension funds with an emphasis on some actions to curb the unfunded liability.
Meanwhile, the city approved the just over $3.5 million in TIF funds for the Hy-Vee grocery store development along MacArthur Blvd., and the council approved health benefits for civil union partners for city employees.