A task force appointed four months ago by Mayor Jim Gray has been searching for ways to make sure Lexington's police and firefighters can count on a secure retirement without breaking the city.
Until that task force finishes its work, it's irresponsible for the legislature to consider any changes, much less to increase benefits.
And, yet, sure as clockwork, Sens. Tom Buford and Alice Forgy Kerr, Republicans who represent Fayette County, are out to saddle Lexington taxpayers and the retirement fund with millions of dollars in additional costs.
The purpose of their Senate Bill 130 is to insulate police and fire retirees and their families from the cutbacks in city employees' health insurance coverage.
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Buford and Kerr are trying to force the city to pay the full cost of health insurance for police and fire retirees, their spouses and dependent children.
To do this, they are proposing to change a state law that caps the city's health insurance obligation to police and fire retirees at 100 percent of what the city pays for a current employee's health care.
No fiscal note, estimating SB 130's cost, has been prepared. Nor has the effect on Lexington's government been analyzed.
But officials in the Gray administration say it would be tens of millions of dollars over the next few decades.
The unfunded liability of the police and fire pension fund, including medical expenses and bonded debt, has been pegged at $536 million — or more than double the city's annual operating budget.
No one really knows the full size of the unfunded liability. One of the task force's challenges has been to get a handle on the true dimensions of the hole.
Like many governments, Lexington's has underpaid the pension fund, though there have been make-up payments in recent years.
Unlike most governments, the hole has been dug even deeper by the odd arrangement that lets the legislature set the rules and benefits for Lexington's public safety retirees while the city foots the bill. Lawmakers have not hesitated to lard on the goodies sought by police and fire unions.
You don't have to be an actuary to see where all this is headed. Without a change in course, the outcome will be disastrous for taxpayers and future retirees alike.
It's not asking too much of the legislature to simply do no harm this session and await the task force's recommendations.