City council address backlogged rape kits, pension plans - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City council address backlogged rape kits, pension plans

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It was a full day at Memphis City Hall Tuesday as city council members discussed a wide range of topics, ranging from the progress on the rape kit backlog to MLGW bills. It was a full day at Memphis City Hall Tuesday as city council members discussed a wide range of topics, ranging from the progress on the rape kit backlog to MLGW bills.
Memphis Police Department's top brass says some results from those backlogged rape kits should begin coming in by the end of March. Memphis Police Department's top brass says some results from those backlogged rape kits should begin coming in by the end of March.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) – It was a full day at Memphis City Hall Tuesday as city council members discussed a wide range of topics, ranging from the progress on the rape kit backlog to MLGW bills.

Rape kits progress

The plan to process more than 12,000 untested rape kits in Memphis is moving forward. It is the news in which thousands of rape victims in the city have been waiting.

Memphis Police Department's top brass says some results from those backlogged rape kits should begin coming in by the end of March.

"We're doing our best to get this cleared and put prosecution in place," said Deputy Chief Jim Harvey, Memphis Police Department.

Memphis has the largest backlog of untested rape kits in the United States.

In January, a Cross Functional Team (CFT) was established. In consists of police officers, the district attorney, city council members, and rape victim advocates. They meet every two weeks to ensure the process moves in a timely and efficient manner.

Meaghan Ybos is happy to see more transparency between Memphis Police Department and city government, but she says more work still needs to be done.

"This, of all the things we've talked about today here at City Hall, is top priority because it impacts public safety," said Ybos. "If we don't test these rape kits and we don't believe victims, we let the perpetrators go free."

A federal rape kit lawsuit was filed in December to make sure this type of backlog does not happen again. Ybos says the city needs to stop using the lawsuit as an excuse to continue moving forward on this issue.

MPD says once these results start coming in, they should come in at a rate of 200 kits per month.

City pension plans

Memphis has been under a microscope when it comes to funding city pension.

"The cost of funding the pension plan has gone from $20 million to $100 million because of the hole in the plan, because of the stock market crash," said Memphis Human Resource Director Quintin Robinson.

Right now, city employees use a defined benefit plan.

City leaders say the cost of that plan will continue to go up, which is why they are recommending what they call a defined contribution plan, similar to a 401K.

"We would continue to match. It would be vesting on day one a person comes off probation and it would be fully portable," explained Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little.

Little says the new plan would be fully funded. It would also allow employees to transfer city benefits elsewhere, if they change jobs.

But, not all council members are on board with the new plan.

"I'm gonna be honest, and I wish the mayor was here. You guys have hijacked the government and taken it over to steer it in a direction you want it to go for your benefit and not the city's benefit," said Memphis City Councilman Joe Brown.

Last month, Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard asked new city employees to consider the statewide pension program. He said if Memphis employees join the statewide pension plan, taxpayers could see as much as 21 percent in savings.

And, while that idea got mixed reaction, the bottom line is still the same.

"We have an obligation to fully fund our retirement plans, but we also have an obligation to ease the future burdens on taxpayers," said Robinson.

Nothing was decided during council committee meetings on Tuesday. The three options were simply considered. Next year's city budget is expected to be presented April 15.

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