Macon-Bibb pressured to cut costs

Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert says right now, the county has more employees than it can afford, with 80 percent of the budget funding salaries and benefits.

Between mandated budget cuts and less revenue coming in, Reichert says the county is facing "tough choices" to cut costs.

If left unaddressed, he says there could be big consequences.

"There are several ways, whether you, reduce hours, whether you temporarily lay people off, whether you terminate positions, eliminate employment, and have a reduction in the number of positions available to fill," Reichert said. "This budget probably going to be our toughest because I'm committed to eliminating the second half of the former city taxes. There's no reason in the world we shouldn't have an equitably financed government. we don't want one group of people inside an imaginary line paying more than others."

He thinks a better option is eliminating the $388 monthly subsidy that some former county employees could receive, once they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

RELATED: Bibb strikes down health benefit cuts for retirees

Currently, he says 228 former county employees receive that benefit, with another 133 who are eligible to retire.

Reichert says it costs millions to maintain those benefits for retirees each year.

As an incentive, Reichert wants to create a window of time in which eligible employees could retire to receive that benefit. But those who retire after that cut-off date would no longer be offered that subsidy.

"We need to be conscious of personnel costs and try to reduce it in ways that don't force people out of employment but instead you incentivize their retirement where you can," Reichert said.

The mayor's proposal would not change those benefits for the retirees already receiving them. But Tuesday morning, a committee didn't even discuss the issue except to tentatively take it off the table.

They struck down a similar resolution in October, the first time Mayor Reichert proposed it.

Follow 13WMAZ's Anita Oh on Facebook at Anita Oh WMAZ and on Twitter @anita_oh.


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