Even above the City Council and mayoral races, Issue 4 could be the most decisive ballot item in the 2013 election. If voters approve it, Cincinnati could be ravaged by the city charter amendment’s horrible financial implications.
There are plenty of problems with how Issue 4 privatizes the city’s pension system so future city employees suddenly have to manage their own individual retirement accounts.
That shifts the financial decision-making from a professional pension board to individuals who might not have the time or interest to keep tabs on the best retirement investments. And it’s not clear if city retirees would qualify for Social Security under the amendment, like private-sector employees with similar individual retirement plans do.
But perhaps the most pressing concern is that Issue 4 would force the city to pay its $862 unfunded pension liability in just 10 years. The massive requirement would quickly gobble up more than one-fourth of the city’s $350 million annual operating budget: A study from a finance professor at Xavier University found Issue 4 could force the city to cut services, excluding police and firefighters, by up to 41 percent or increase taxes by a comparable amount in the near term.
It’s a terrible deal for Cincinnati. That’s why city officials, including both Democrats and Republicans, unanimously oppose it.
But that hasn’t stopped tea party groups — from outside the city and state, according to finance reports from the pro-Issue 4 campaign — from jamming the issue into Cincinnati’s ballot. It’s up to voters to say no on Nov. 5.