The Metro Council on Tuesday gave final approval to changes in the city’s employee benefit system, changing the current model of five-year vesting for service pensions to new model requiring 10 years to qualify for pension benefits.
Mayor Karl Dean’s Study and Formulating Committee recommended the plan in March.
Other changes include a new rate structure for Metro’s contribution to health insurance premiums based on years of service as well as the elimination of retiree medical benefits for employees who leave Metro before retirement.
Although the move essentially reverses a change made by former Mayor Bill Purcell — who implemented five-year vesting in 2001 — the committee’s recommendation received support from the Service Employees International Union Local 205, which represents Metro workers.
The council approved the changes Tuesday without discussion.
There was much discussion, however, about a rezoning ordinance sponsored by Councilman Sean McGuire that would permit a new office building at the corner of Hillsboro Pike and Burton Hills Boulevard in Green Hills.
During time allotted for public comment, a line of developers, lobbyists, and even a representative from Corrections Corporation of America, whose offices are nearby, voiced support for the proposal.
They argued that the development, which would now be four stories instead of the initially proposed seven stories, would create jobs and the effect on traffic would be minimal.
Opponents of the proposal, however, said they were not convinced that the project would not increase traffic in an area that is already one of the most congested in the city.
Among those speaking in opposition were representatives from an Asheville, N.C.-based group that manages several office buildings in Burton Hills. After representatives from the group spoke, Nashville real estate attorney Tom White argued on their behalf saying the new project would violate conditions put in place by the Metro Planning Commission that were never waived.
Council attorney Jon Cooper, though, said council members could amend such conditions if it saw fit. The council eventually granted the proposal preliminary approval, sending it to committee.
In other business:
The council approved on final reading a line of credit arrangement between the Metro Sports Authority and First Tennessee Bank that makes up to $10 million available for capital improvements at Bridgestone Arena.
As result of the ongoing National Hockey League lockout, only $3 million will be made available initially, much of which would go toward repaying the Nashville Predators for improvements already made to the arena.