Columbus City Council debates proposal to change retirement plans for employees

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  In one of the final city council meetings in 2016, a heated debate among councilors over a proposed amendment would allow city employees to work up to eight years after retirement. 

Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson said 50 city employees are part of the Deferred Option Retirement Plan, or D.R.O.P., that the city implemented 11 months ago.

She says it's just one of several programs in place to offer new pension plans to almost 2,000 city employees. The amendment proposed at Tuesday's agenda meeting could affect other programs' funding like public safety and general employees as well. 

Councilor Glenn Davis introduced the amendment, saying a handful of current city workers have approached him about adding a 5-year extension to D.R.O.P., which right now, only gives workers a 3-year deferment from retiring.

After the meeting, Tomlinson said she had concerns not only about how much this change will cost but how will it affect the city's workforce in the future.

"If we adopt the proposal on the table now," she said, "it could create great uncertainty." 

Tomlinson said the amendment could also lengthen any sort of succession planning the city government planned, affecting people's expectations about moving up in the organization. "That was something that a lot of employees wanted."

Tomlinson also said this first version of the amendment could cost the city $1.3 million. The most recent pension reform came because of problems with the program's funding, and the mayor does not want to risk having more trouble with those pension funds.

Another city council member who said he and the rest of the council are waiting for a meeting in early January where they'll sit down with financial experts to review the impact this proposed change could bring.

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