If comments posted on this site are any indication, the majority of readers of the Ramage Report are fiercely opposed to Mayor Kasim Reed’s plan to cut City of Atlanta employee pensions.
They feel that a contract is a contract and they came to work for the city under certain assurances, not the least of which was that the pay is not great, but the pension isn’t bad. Now they are threatened with reduced retirement income, even after years of making sure that a portion of their paychecks was put toward their later years.
The mayor, however, says the city cannot afford to continue paying out pensions at its current rate. It will go broke, he says, unless something is done. He has invited anyone with a better idea for saving the city some money to bring it forward.
So, now’s our chance.
I’ll start: Work with surrounding governments and the state to form a metro-area-wide police and fire agency. Fewer than half a million taxpayers fund the City of Atlanta’s police and fire services and yet, everyday, 1.5 million people come into the city to work and play. While they’re here, they get their laptops stolen or their cell phones boosted, or they have heart attacks or crash their cars.
My tentatively named Atlanta Metropolitan Public Safety (AMPS) would address that imbalance. Why not make sure that those who benefit from the services are paying for them? It also enhances crime fighting by knocking down jurisdictional walls that help hide perpetrators.
How big should it be? Sharper minds than mine need to figure that out. Some say all of Fulton County should be in the metro-area public safety district, while others (like me) think that the area inside the Perimeter might be right, because it has a clear and distinct boundary.
The downside is that this is not a quick fix. It could take more than a decade to set up the metro police and fire authority. But we’d still get it finished before the Beltline.
What are your ideas? If you can think of a better way than cutting pensions to bolster the city’s budget, please share it in the comments section below. SR