Huntington City Council held its weekly budget meeting on Saturday. This week's task: reviewing the city's police and fire budgets.
Inside Huntington City Council Chambers, the talk on Saturday was all money.
The proposed budget is down 6% from last year, but the two funds that are placing a tax on the city, the police and fire pension funds, are up 6%. That leaves less money for public works to pave roads or fix potholes.
So how did the city get in the situation it's in now? The mayor says in the early 90s, the city went to a balloon funding method, which put off the responsibility to fund the pensions in the later years. This method put a lot of strain on the city. What many want to see now is a more standardized funding method, which is more of a pay-as-you-go approach.
The budget is dominated by police and fire services, but the pension piece of the pie takes up 20% of the city's total budget.
A magic pill that would help provide a prescription to the pension pains.
Councilman Jim Insco says the city has close to $120 million dollars in unfunded liabilities. If all of the city's 107 firefighters and 87 police officers were to retire today, that's how much the city would need to cover the pension crunch. Both departments’ budgets are expected to pass without many amendments.