A half-cent sales tax increase to fund retiree health care subsidies is the linchpin to a solution that could put an end to sick-outs among Memphis police and fire department employees this week, according to sources familiar with the proposal.
The plan has emerged from meetings Wednesday and Thursday and is being shopped to City Council members. The Wednesday and Thursday meetings have been between police and fire union leaders, police and fire department leaders, a representative of Mayor A C Wharton’s administration and City Council member Myron Lowery.
In the proposal, the sick-outs could end if the City Council agrees to set up a referendum that could be put on the ballot as early as November to raise the sales tax to 9.75 percent. That could produce as much as $47 million annually, which could go to cover the amount the city paid to help retirees pay for health care, a subsidy that was removed with the council’s June 17 vote.