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Board rescinds resolution regarding retirement contributions to Airport Authority employees

By Bill Short

Flag City LogoThe Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has adopted a resolution that rescinds a previous one pertaining to retirement contributions provided to Airport Authority employees.
Board members took the action during their May 11 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Mike Caruthers and seconded by Alderman Larry Dagen.
The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with Alderman Bethany Huffman abstaining and Alderman Thomas McGhee absent.
The rescinding resolution states that, in August 1998, the Airport Authority and the city board adopted “companion resolutions” authorizing the city to assume all “personnel and payroll functions” for the airport employees, and for the Authority to reimburse the city for the costs incurred.
The city provided fringe benefits to the airport employees that included a pension through the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System and “various insurances” that matched those received by regular city employees.
But after reviewing the “status” of the Authority and its employees, the TCRS legal counsel has determined that they “should never have been provided coverage” under the city’s TCRS agreement.
The rescinding resolution states that the Authority desires to manage its own personnel functions and to comply with the TCRS opinion that the Authority’s employees “cannot be city employees.”
The TCRS has allowed the Authority to continue using the city’s services and benefits until June 30.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen intends to adopt a separate resolution allowing the TCRS to transfer contributions and earnings for the Authority’s employees from the city’s account to a new account for the Authority.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Authority Chairman Jim Brown said it had requested “some clarification” in the resolution. He noted that it was attempting to “forego” any “future problems” in the wording.
City Attorney Charles Perkins said one of his predecessors had designated the Authority employees as city employees, so that they would not only be a part of the TCRS, but also be eligible for medical benefits from Shelby County.
Because he did not want to “mess up” the city in its business with the county, Perkins said he had previously recommended that the agreement be left as it was.
Citing the five terms he served as a member of the county commission, Perkins said he knows how the county operates.
“Maybe not in every case,” he acknowledged, “but I do know something about this. And believe it or not, there are people at the county who do not want to provide medical benefits to the city of Millington, even though we’re part of the county.”
Perkins said he understands that the Authority wants to be “completely independent in this regard.” So, it may be able to get the TCRS benefits but will “probably lose” the county medical benefits.
Brown said the Authority had to establish a separate account, which “kind of precipitated this whole procedure.”
He noted that the “question at hand” was whether there was any language in the agreement that needed to be changed.
“If you don’t feel it’s necessary, that’s fine,” he told Perkins. “But I just wanted to make sure.”

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