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Massive cuts made to health insurance for city employees, retirees

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A resolution needs only one vote. An ordinance requires three votes. (Photo Source: Kontji Anthony, WMC Action News 5) A resolution needs only one vote. An ordinance requires three votes. (Photo Source: Kontji Anthony, WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN -
(WMC) - Memphis City Council has voted to make massive cuts to health insurance for city employees and retirees. 

A lawsuit could follow and taxpayers would foot the bill.

The city proposed a range of cuts to its health insurance model, from increasing premium rates for retirees to increasing the smoker surcharge.

Memphis Fire Association President Thomas Malone says the city's health insurance proposals are so vast, they require an ordinance vote on the matter. The changes were presented as resolutions.

"They're forcing our hand, and we're going to deal the hand they gave us," said Malone. "We think this is a violation of the city charter. We will be going to litigation if they continue on this path."

A resolution needs only one vote, while an ordinance requires three votes. Legal experts say a resolution generally states a city's position on an issue and an ordinance relates to matters of a general and permanent nature.

The city said they were confident moving forward with the vote.

According to City Chief Administrative Officer George Little, the city cannot ignore rising health care costs.

"We have researched this matter thoroughly. We think the process that we've chosen by resolution is the appropriate process," said Little.

Little says the fallout is worth the risk as opposed to leaving the system as it is, where the city would be forced to raise taxes or cut city services long term.

"When you look at the overall city budget and our responsibility to maintain financial stability for the years to come, we've got to make the changes," added Little.

The city and the fire union could end up in court. 

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