BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It was standing room only inside Birmingham City Council chambers as the city’s pension board talked about how to fill a $378 million hole in the pension fund. Current and retired city employees were listening intently.
"The nine of us as a board collectively with our employees all share the same interest which is to make sure we have a funded pension,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said.
Woodfin says the city needs to find at least $12 million a year over the next 30 years to make the fund whole again. One possible solution is letting the Retirement Systems of Alabama manage the fund. That didn’t sit too well with some board members.
"I hate to see not only the administration, but the employees lose 100% control about who invests the money down there,” Marty Leonard, a pension board member.
Other possible solutions include increasing contributions made by the city, by employees, and reducing current and new employee retirement benefits. Board member Dale Wyatt says he doesn’t want employees to take the hit.
"I work for this city. The city has been very good for me and I want to do everything I can as a board member to make sure our bond rating stays strong but throwing on the backs of the employees and the rush like it’s been done right now is not the way to do it. We didn’t get here overnight, and we can’t fix it overnight,” Dale Wyatt, another pension board member.
Mayor Woodfin says the pension fund issue needs to be addressed now. "I want everybody to consider 30 years from now. Everything comes full circle. The 2008 great recession is not the only time we’ll see a recession in the next 30 years. What happens if it comes again? Can this city’s pension withstand that?” Woodfin said.
We’re told the pension board will try and come up with solutions to funding issues before its next meeting in December.