Rail Line Could Make Nashville Budget Sick, Unable To Fund Retiree Insurance

Retired Metro Nashville employees’ benefits are in jeopardy, one PAC says, even as Mayor Megan Barry’s supporters have no trouble raising funds from the business community to try to persuade voters to pay $9 billion for a transit system.

NoTax4Tracks says in a press release that Metro Nashville has a health insurance funding shortfall for retirees to the tune of nearly $3 billion.

“The good news is you are probably going to get whatever is in your pension. That part of the retirement plan is fairly well funded. The bad news is that health insurance coverage you were promised …. maybe not so much.”

Health insurance, a part of “other post employment benefits (OPEB), are funded at 0 percent, the press release says, citing an October 2017 letter from Metro’s director of finance, Talia Lomax-O’dneal.

The shortfall is nothing new. A Jan. 26, 2015 story from the Tennessean says the issue dates to 2002. Many of the retirement benefits are paid from the city’s budget and costs grew from 13 percent of the total property tax revenue to 25 percent in 2015. The story cites a report from The Pew Charitable Trusts that says the health care plan faces a long-term shortfall of at least $2.4 billion if the city fails to take action.

“And, get this, nothing is being set aside to pay for this debt,” the NoTax4Tracks press release says.” Zero. For promises made … to real people who worked hard and were told by the city they would get what was promised.

Meanwhile, the Citizens for Greater Mobility PAC, which supports the transit plan, submitted a year-end disclosure form to the state saying the group raised $1.3 million, the Tennessean reports. The PAC funds the Transit for Nashville Coalition and has ties to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

HCA, Ingram Industries, Greater Nashville Realtors, law firm Bass, Berry & Sims, Bridgestone Americas, H.G. Hill Realty, and the chamber accounted for $500,000 in donations collectively, the newspaper reports. Ingram industries is the family business of Martha Ingram and her sons, including John Ingram, who recently received the city’s help to land the new soccer franchise.

“We’re pretty excited about the broad community support that we’ve seen in Davidson County for this transit plan,” the PAC’s chairman, Jim Schmitz, Middle Tennessee Area President of Regions Bank, told the Tennessean. “It’s apparent by the contributions so far. It’s clear that the business community believes that transit is an important issue for employees and for customers, and for the economic future of the area.”

Schmitz mentioned the transit plan being important for employees. Perhaps he did not consider the effect on retired Metro Nashville employees.

As NoTax4Tracks said in its press release, “Shouldn’t Metro make good on promises already made … before making a whole big new one?”

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9 Thoughts to “Rail Line Could Make Nashville Budget Sick, Unable To Fund Retiree Insurance”

  1. […] chamber had ties to the Citizens for Greater Mobility PAC, which supported the transit […]

  2. Wayne Sawyer

    Her Honor is positioning herself to make a bunch of her Commycrat friends even more wealthy. This is why she can’t resign. Too many commitment to the NEW political supporters. Typical politics. Remember when those double ended buses were going to save Nashville? When is the last time you looked inside one of those moving buses and observed anymore than two or three passengers inside.? And if you see anyone, you know they’re on the FREE ride, paid for by the taxpayers Looks like Her Honor will be attending another black congregation tomorrow morning.

  3. Robert Forbus

    Let’s see…

    Currently the Metro government is in debt to the tune of about $15K per taxpayer and long-term items such as pensions are already threatened. If this transit system is approved, the debt will practically double. Nashville is enjoying a “boom” of sorts regarding real estate transfers and new building. We know this will not continue forever.

    It is many years since I lived in Davidson County, and I do not want to see Davidson County implode and then demand that the remainder of Tennessee taxpayers bail them out. Nashville needs to stop following the recommendations of “outsiders” who stand to gain while residents may lose – badly in some cases.

  4. Papa

    So the $5.2B has already increased to almost double. What will it be by the time it’s voted on . . . completed?

  5. Michael L. Moss

    where in all this infinite wisdom, does anybody think that a retiree could find affordable health insurance….when they are in their 60’s & 70’s ???? After 30 years serving this city as a police officer I pay my share of the insurance and that is still $350-$400 per month off my pension..I guess they want us to start eating Alpo. COL continually goes up..but not our pension..Our Insurance cost to us also goes up regularly…my Social Security finally gave me a 1% raise but then Medicare went up and I now make $8.00 less per month than I did last year. I didn’t work for the PD to get rich but to protect the citizens of Nashville…we need the benefits promised to us retirees , and believe me we worked & sacrificed for them…( I’m also too old to ride a bicycle. )..

  6. William Pafford

    The needs of the few , outweigh the needs of the many. Typical ultra liberal thinking. Look at the bike lanes that have reduced the width of streets in Nashville. Have time, go and count how many bicycles you see. The Chamber of Commerce under Democratic rule has for decades pushed growth, now this growth is biting them in the rear. No to light rail. No to pushing growth.

  7. Randall

    The Mayor should follow in the footsteps of the President of Trevecca College and buy bicycles for everyone.

  8. Wolf Woman

    I’m all for a transportation plan for Metro and the surrounding counties but this plan will do little for our traffic problems (especially the crowded interstates) and cost us the farm. It will hurt our middle class workers, the poor, the elderly, small businesses and Lord knows what other unintended consequences will occur that are negative. Mayor Moonbeam’s plan seems to bring a short term gain for heavy construction and a long term pain for the city and its citizens.

    Why are the Chamber of Commerce Babbits behind the plan since its a weapon that will kill the tourist golden goose? Are the wealthy Belle Meade elites are drinking too much champaign and the East Nashville democrats smoking too much pot to see a clear picture of our future?

    I’ve invested my hard-earned money into this city for years but if this plan passes, there’s no way I’ll continue walking down this sure path to Nashville’s fiscal insolvency.

  9. 83ragtop50

    Who in power cares about the average working person (or retiree) when there are favors to bought and paid for among the Nashville elite?