How can San Antonio avoid becoming another Detroit?


  1200 WOAI news reports a 13 member task force, to be headed by former City Councilman Reed Williams, will examine the question of how to deal with the exploding costs of city employee, police, and firefighters pension, retiree health care, and other benefits promised to existing and future employees.


  "Every year, the cost of providing healthcare and pension benefits to active and retired employees escalates," Mayor Castro said.


  The appointment of the task force follows a well publicized fumble by City Manager Sheryl Sculley in August.  During a City Council budget session, she claimed that so called 'legacy costs,' which are the committed costs of employee benefits, would eat up 100% of the city's budget by the year 2022.


  Sculley was forced to walk that back following withering criticism by the police and fire pension fund attorneys, but she stuck to her claim that the costs of benefits, healthcare, and operating costs for public safety agencies, including legacy pension costs, are on course to take up 100% of current city tax revenue, which would mean no money left over for parks, libraries, or pothole repair.


  The committee, which includes Sculley, representatives of the Police Officers Association, business leaders, representative of the Service Employees International Union, and representatives of retired San Antonio city employees.


  The task force will come up with recommendations for City Council in February on how to avoid having legacy costs become a huge burden on the taxpayers in future years.