Commissioners spar, delay vote on Ford pension payments - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Commissioners spar, delay vote on Ford pension payments

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Commissioners sparred Monday over pension payments for former Commissioner Joe Ford.

Ford wants to add his city service to his county retirement benefits, but the complicated details left commissioners wrangling.  The debate surrounding the retirement benefits was so touchy that Commissioner Justin Ford, who recently won his father's seat, left the chambers.

Commissioner Sydney Chism asked to delay the matter for further research.

"With respect to the chair, I do object to this," Commissioner Mike Carpenter then said. "We know what the retirement board, their position was on it."
Carpenter objected to the delay that would allow Joe Ford to add time served as a Memphis City councilman to his county benefits. That would add about $450 to his monthly check, but the city says they already paid Joe Ford his retirement years ago.

"At the time, as I understand it, he had to take the money and he had to take the payout," Chism said.
Commissioner Chris Thomas said the only way this could pass if Ford pays the city back.

"I didn't feel like it was fair to take a payout from the city and then get to use his time for the county," Thomas said. "So I proposed a resolution that if it passes, he will have to pay back principal plus interest."
Another sticking point for commissioners is that Ford left city government for two years before becoming a county employee.  So, they say, he should lose the status of a city-county transfer employee as others have.

"There are other employees who have left and come back and they didn't get a resolution," Thomas said.
Some said Ford's popular political family name is giving him special consideration, while others feel he's being scrutinized harder because he's a Ford.
"If it was anyone else, I don't think we would have this problem," Chism said.
"My concern is I felt like if we were talking about Joe Smith, this wouldn't be happening," Thomas added.

Ultimately, commission voted to delay the vote on Ford's retirement for 30 days.

What do you think about Ford's pension payments.  How would you vote?  Leave us a comment in the space below.

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