City plans 2 percent tax hike for pensions

Marty Lyons speaking at Thursday's 2nd Ward meeting.

Previewing the city's proposed 2016 budget at a 2nd Ward meeting Thursday evening, Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said that it will call for a 2 percent increase in the city's property tax levy to provide additional funds for public safety pensions.

The proposed budget, running more than 300 pages, is scheduled to be released later today.

Lyons says the increase in pension funding is being recommended by the city's new pension actuary firm.

Late last decade the City Council voted to change actuaries every six years after having relied on one firm for advice for an extended period -- advice that now appears to have been very overly optimistic about how much money the city could expect to earn on funds set aside for pensions.

Over the last six years advice from the replacement actuary led to much higher amounts set aside for pensions, and the latest advisor, Lyons says, believes that even more funding needs to be provided.

Otherwise, other than a reorganization of public works functions that Lyons said would mean some reduction in the number of top-level managers but no cuts in union workers, there are only "very minimal changes" in the city's budget, he said.

But much of the budget planning could end up having to be redone if an eventual resolution of the state's budget impasse includes major cuts in state aid to municipalities.

The first City Council discussion of the budget is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19, and the budget is tentatively scheduled to be adopted by the aldermen before Thanksgiving.