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VOL. 129 | NO. 161 | Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Council Reviews Pension Investment Changes

By Bill Dries

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For the first time in months, Memphis City Council members have no committee discussions scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 19, on city health insurance benefits or proposed pension plan changes.

Memphis City Council members are in a political lull in the volatile discussion of changes to city employee and retiree benefits.

(Daily News File Photo)

But the council will vote on the first in a series of pension plan changes to come.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow @tdnpols, twitter.com/tdnpols, for live coverage of the meeting as well as developments in committee sessions earlier in the day.

The council votes Tuesday on the first of three readings of an ordinance that would increase the percentage of the city’s pension fund that can be invested in real estate. The current limit is 5 percent of the total trust fund portfolio.

The amendment would increase that to 10 percent.

The council is scheduled to vote in October on Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s proposed pension plan changes that are the companion to health insurance coverage changes for city employees and retirees that the council approved earlier this year.

Up for second reading Tuesday is council member Janis Fullilove’s attempt to undo the health insurance cuts and changes with a proposed referendum on a half-cent sales tax hike that would go to city voters on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Before the meeting, council members could get a report from council attorney Allan Wade on whether they have to take the third and final vote on the referendum ordinance before Labor Day in order to get the item to the Shelby County Election Commission before the deadline for the make-up of the November ballot.

Tuesday’s session is the last scheduled council meeting before the Labor Day holiday. The next scheduled session is Sept. 2, the day after the Labor Day holiday.

At a 10 a.m. committee session, council members discuss a $270,000 appropriation from the city’s capital budget to buy two Pro-Patch trucks.

The trucks, made by H.D. Industries of Jacksonville, Texas, are “specialized street repair” vehicles to be used to “improve the productivity and efficiency of the street maintenance street repair program,” according to a summary sheet provided by the administration.

The trucks allow a one- or two-worker crew to patch pavement and can work in all weather conditions. The hoppers on the trucks can hold up to six tons of aggregate.

The same committee will also discuss $248,323 in state grant funds for the latest phase of the Wolf River Greenway, from Nedra Avenue to Chelsea Avenue.

At a 10:30 a.m. committee session, the council talks over the creation of golf enterprises administrator position within the parks division. The job would pay $76,294.93 to $97,276.92 a year.

The administrator would be responsible for “planning, marketing, directing and administration of golf operations,” according to the job opening posted by the city last month.

Over several budget seasons, council members have debated closing some of the city’s golf courses or cutting back hours. The council has also explored contracting with private managers and operators at some of the courses.

Council members will also review the transfer of $3.5 million in rent payments Bass Pro Shops has been making on The Pyramid at a rate of $500,000 a month during the construction period. The rent is to pay city construction expenses.

The transfer of the money is to the city’s Division of Housing and Community Development.

The one-time arena is now in the phase during which Bass Pro Shops is building its store, other attractions and a hotel, which are scheduled to open in December.

Prior to the current phase, the city was responsible for creating a “warm lit shell” under terms of the agreement.

The city’s obligations also included costly seismic measures. Those were required when state officials said the conversion of The Pyramid constituted a significant enough change in the structure that the project would have to incorporate stricter seismic standards that weren’t in place when it was built in the early 1990s.

MORTGAGES 54 374 1,120
BUILDING PERMITS 177 767 2,425