One city council woman wants to cut college tuition for all city employees

It's an alternative to cutting near 2,100 jobs, slashing a tuition reimbursement benefit to keep city workers on the payroll. Last week, the city announced it would eliminate nearly 2,100 jobs, 1,899 part time and 198 full-time positions. One city council member says the city can save some of the jobs and money by cutting benefits. Carol Chumney says she's found a way to save city jobs. But it would mean cutting a very popular program, especially with police officers, college tuition reimbursement. Any city of Memphis employee can take advantage of the program, from sanitation workers to police officers. However Councilwoman Carol Chumney says in these tight fiscal times, getting rid of the program could save the city from getting rid of people. Chumney said, "In tough economic times, you have to re-evaluate some of these benefits and say what is our real priority here." The tuition reimbursement program costs the city about $980,000 per year. Much of that money goes to police officers. Tommy Turner, Memphis Police Assoc. said, "Night time officers go during the day, daytime officers go at night. Officers go on the weekend." Many of those officers are finishing up their four year college degree, others are working on masters degrees. The sticking point is that college tuition reimbursement is part of union contracts negotiated by AFSCME and the Police Association, and just because the city's tight, they're not about to budge. Chumney says the negotiating point may be future police salaries. Turner said he has ideas that could save the police department money. He says too many officers are working clerical jobs and should be out on the street. He says civilians can do the clerical work at a lower cost to taxpayers.