Phila. pension woes worry councilman

    DROP gets all the air time, but one Philadelphia city councilman thinks the city has much bigger pension problems than that controversial early retirement program.

    Mayor Nutter’s push to end the early retirement program for Philadelphia city employees known as DROP has stirred much controversy in City Council.
    Councilman Brian O’Neill, who represents most of the Northeast, says the DROP program is only a drop in the bucket compared to the bigger problems of the city’s pension system, which he says is severely underfunded.
    “It just seems every mayor has done the pension contribution out of habit,” O’Neill said.  “Council doesn’t intrude. Mayors don’t talk to each other but they always seem to always underfund the pension system. It’s been a practice that should end.”

    O’Neill says currently the system has only half the money it needs to pay fully the pensions promised to city works. The councilman says the city needs a thorough review of this chronic underfunding.

    “We have to sit down with people and say what are the best ways to correct it including putting more money in it,” he said. “You can talk about it all day but if you don’t put more money in it, it’s a problem.”

     A spokesman for Mayor Nutter says the mayor agrees the pension system has serious problems, but noted that Council has a representative on the pension board who should have kept Council informed.

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