Small towns begin to feel impact of state pension crisis
FULTON, KY – Small towns in our area are beginning to feel the impact of Kentucky’s pension crisis. A memo dated Dec. 11, 2017, by the Kentucky Retirement Systems interim executive director shows both county and city governments will pay significantly more for their employees’ pension by July 2018.
The percentages for CERS (the County Employees Retirement System) go from 19.8 percent to 28.05 percent for nonhazardous workers and from 31.55 percent to 47.86 percent for hazardous workers.
Here’s how much additional money these cities will need to come up with:
- Paducah – $2.3 million
- Mayfield – $500,000
- Fulton – $114,000
- Murray – $881,000
Murray Mayor Jack Rose calls the move a disaster. He says if the legislature doesn’t fix it, it could be one of the worst things to ever hit municipalities.
Fulton’s increase may not look like a lot, but, it’s a town that’s endured a string of layoffs, a loss in population, and a drop in tax revenue.
Fulton City Manager Cub Stokes says to pay the bill, the city commission will have to consider a variety of options. He pledges not to lay anyone off while he’s city manager. But, this puts budget cuts and tax increases both on the table.
Stokes says the closure of Parkway Regional Hospital in 2012 still impacts the city today. The $114,000 bill comes as no new people are coming to Fulton to live and no new big business is locating there. “I see it as poor management from our predecessors, from the state and our legislative officials, down to local officials for not keeping the pension system funded,” he said.
He says there is no more fat to trim. He says the city has done that over the past five years. A good example is the recent consolidation of Ken-Tenn EMS, an ambulance service paid for by South Fulton, Tennessee, and Hickman and Fulton counties in Kentucky.
“You have obstacles every day, and it keeps you humble for what you have and makes you work that much hard to keep what you have. We’ll persevere. This community has come back time after time,” Stokes added.