Watch: The Pension Problem
If you want to know why mayors across the state are worried about pension costs, you need look no further than the city of Watertown.
The bill for city government's retirees has shot up over the last decade.
"I never would have thought our retirement costs would have gone from $90,000 in '02-'03 to $3.9 million," said city comptroller James Mills.
And that's not the bad news.
For the current year, Watertown's pension bill has gone up another 11 percent, to rougfhly $4.6 million.
Mayor Jeff Graham has been trying to draw attention to the problem.
"If you're going to try to make all that up in the property tax, you would place tremendous upward percentage pressure on those taxes," Gram told 7 News reporter John Moore.
The mayor is skeptical of a proposal by Governor Cuomo to 'smooth' pension payments, which would reduce what municipalities pay now, but could end up costing them more over 25 years.
Graham said the city is working on other ways to deal with the problem.
"We have a good fund balance and I think the manager will be proposing some other cuts that'll help mitigate this," he said.
(Read more on the pension smoothing plan on Mayor Graham's blog.)
Saturday, May 25, 2013, Watertown, NY
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