(WMC) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton began a media blitz by talking with WMC Action News 5 about a way to provide city employee health care despite recent, controversial cuts.
The prop being used to help pitch the plan is colorful and easy to understand, but will it pass muster?
A new plan to serve as a "safety net" for City of Memphis employees and retirees rolled out during Tuesday's council health care oversight committee meeting. Wharton says the city had little choice but to slash benefits.
"Contrary to what people may believe, we have obligations to our employees, but we also have overriding obligations to the taxpayers," Wharton said.
He's now offering this safety net to make living with the decision less painful.
In Wharton's so-called Healthcare Assurance Plan the city's retirees are split up among seven color-coded categories, some covered by a trust fund.
"This is real money, it's not funny money—there's already $2 million from the city," Wharton said.
The plan already received a lukewarm reception from union leaders, who presented their own road map to restore health care coverage.
Matthew Tomek of the Memphis Fire Fighters Association noted a projected savings of roughly $24.6 million.
Wharton warns the give and take must continue.
"This is not a situation where all of the angels line up on one side and the devils on the other side. I'd like to think that there are angels on both sides of this," he said.
No matter the compromise that may be reached, WMC Action News 5 was told a plan must come together by the end of the year.
The health care oversight committee meeting is a response to the benefit cuts previously approved by the city council, and it remains a work in progress.
For a closer look at the proposed plan, follow this link: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wmctv/HAP%20Plan11x17-numbers%20PJ.pdf.