A $100 million problem, one time, is bad. A $100 million problem every year, for years on end, is a crisis — the crisis that awaits Atlanta’s next mayor, in the form of astounding pension liabilities.
In recent years, Atlanta has spent nine-digit sums annually to fill a $1.2 billion hole in its retirement funds for police, firefighters and other city workers. These payments represent one of every six dollars that City Hall spends.
Taxes have little chance of moving lower, or the quality of services higher, while this is the case. High-profile crimes get more attention, but unfunded pensions will haunt the next administration like nothing else.
Howard Shook, chairman of the City Council’s finance committee, jokes that the winner of the Nov. 3 mayoral election “is probably going to be asking for a recount” once he or she realizes the extent of the problem.
The candidates’ solutions so far suggest they don’t fully grasp it, or haven’t thought enough about how to overcome it. The
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