City employees face cuts with another deficit looming - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

City employees face cuts with another deficit looming

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

The city of Memphis wants to make big changes to the paid time off policies for city workers. It could save the taxpayers millions of dollars, but the idea is already unpopular with the unions.

Last year, city workers saw a 4.6 percent reduction in salary, including law enforcement.

MORE: City Workers Aim to Reverse Pay Cuts

Police Union President Mike Williams said he met with city leaders to talk about restoring the pay cut, but instead was bombarded with a proposal for benefit reductions.

"What we were given was a Christmas list of wants from the city, things they want to take away from the employees," he says.

Some proposed reductions include eliminating one of 13 paid holidays, reducing vacation time, and reducing sick time to ten days a year, capping it at 60 days accrued.

MORE: Read the City's proposal

Employees earn between 1 and 2.5 days a month depending on years on the job. The city says the cost of overtime for sick time in the fire department alone is $7.8 million a year.

They are also considering eliminating cashing out sick days for retirees. Currently, retirees can cash out 75 sick days at retirement, costing the city $2.5 million a year.

City of Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little says the changes would put the city more in line with what's normal in the private sector.

"To look at that further and see if we can't find some way to incentivize people coming to work as opposed to the current set up that clearly incentivize people to take off from work," says Little.

But Williams says this isn't the private sector, public employees should be treated differently.

Williams says, "a lot of city employees take the job, not for the pay but for the benefits.  I will tell you this is going to hurt the city."

But Little says the city is facing a deficit again this year and the options on how to fill the gap are cuts or a property tax increase.

"This is really among the first of a series of tough choices were going to face as we move forward on a fiscal year budget," adds Little.

Any changes have to be approved by the City Council. It could hear the proposal as early as next month. Any changes in benefits could result in a lawsuit being brought by the unions.

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