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BOMA discusses Town staff Social Security plan

Just how will Town employees be given the option of joining Social Security?

That’s the question Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed during a workshop Thursday, July 14.

Town administrator David Smoak said the Board had two options to elect for Town staff — a majority referendum or divided referendum — with one being an “all in or all out” choice and the other allowing for individual preference.

The Board recently voted to opt into Social Security after a decision in the 1980s not to join. The new retirement plan includes Social Security and a 401(a) plan, in which an employee contributes 4 percent of his pay and the Town matches that.

“The majority rule is a lot easier,” Town administrator David Smoak said.

The Social Security Adminis-tration would administer any referendum, which would be conducted via a secret ballot vote.

A majority referendum would mandate that all Town employees opt into Social Security if a simple majority of Town staff voted that way.

A divided referendum allows each individual staff member to decide whether he or she wants to participate.

But the trouble, Smoak said, is that each decision applies to the faculty position, not the person. In other words, if an employee opts out of Social Security, then retires, his replacement could not opt in without a lengthy petitioning process to the SSA.

“It could be a deal-breaker” to recruiting someone for a job, Smoak said.

“What concerns me most is not the potential split of employees today ... but that they make decisions for positions forever,” Alderman Ron Honken said.

“That may not be an issue now, but it may be a year from now,” he added.

In-house promotions would have the same problem, Smoak said. That person, in his previous position, might have opted into Social Security. But if the position he is promoted to did not, then he won’t have it.

Honken wondered what would happen if the Town created a new staff position.

“It would have some administrative issues,” Smoak said of the divided referendum option.

“It’s probably going to be a read headache if we don’t have everybody in,” Alderman Bob Markli said.

Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche asked Smoak if Town employees had indicated a preferential referendum.

“They wanted anything other than what we have now,” Smoak said, adding he hadn’t asked staff members about the referendum options specifically.

Because it was a workshop, the Board didn’t take an official vote, but indicated they would favor a majority referendum. Mayor Ralph McGill was absent from the meeting. A resolution regarding the referendum options is expected to be up for a vote at the Board’s next meeting, Thursday, July 28.

During the regular meeting, the Board:

• Approved, on first reading, a request to close Herron Road right-of-way between the Interstate-40/75 right-of-way and Town limits, adjacent to Buddy Gregg Motor Homes. The request will allow Buddy Gregg to expand its facilities. The Board unanimously approved the request with McGill absent.

• Approved, on first reading, a request to amend Farragut Zoning Ordinance to allow motorized wakeboard cable systems in the C-2 commercial district. The request would allow Wild Wing Café owner David McFarland to install an electric motorized wakeboard system in the restaurant’s pond. The Board unanimously approved the request with McGill absent.

• Appointed Cindy Hollyfield to Visual Resources Review Board. Hollyfield took the place of Noah Myers, who recently was named to Farragut Municipal Planning Commission.


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