More than 900 retired city workers could get a modest pension increase if Columbus Council figures out a way to fund that ongoing expense.
During its Budget Review Committee meeting Tuesday, Councilor C.E. "Red" McDaniel proposed the city government give retirees a 1.5 percent raise. If that increase took effect July 1 with the start of the next fiscal year, it would cost the city $225,000, said Finance Director Pam Hodge. But the raises current city workers are to get in the next fiscal year won't take effect until Oct. 1. They are being postponed one quarter into the budget year to save $1.5 million. Of the city's $210.7 million budget proposed for the 2009 fiscal year, $4.5 million is devoted to bringing about 2,700 city workers' pay up to what a University of Georgia study says is in line with what similar-sized organizations pay.
City leaders may delay any increase in retiree pay until the other raises take effect. That would lower the overall cost of that retiree increase from $225,000 to $168,750, Hodge said. She said the city spends about $1.3 million monthly on retiree pensions and benefits.
If councilors approve the increase, they will have to find a way to pay for it. The money could come from the city's reserve funds, but city leaders prefer not to pay ongoing expenses with their savings account. City Manager Isaiah Hugley said "salary savings," the money gained from open positions that have not been filled, could help pay the cost.