by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – Tonight’s meeting of Huntington City Council , first, places the spotlight on the administration.

At the Thursday work session, Brandi Jacobs-Jones, director of finance & administration, prevailed in her request to present the plan for the city’s  actuarial legacy pension liability shortfall --- a total of $4.2 million dollars.

Except for the print media i.e. Herald-Dispatch and HNN, the televised media have been mostly quiet, announcing just the basic shortfall and the important plan(s) Tuesday. WSAZ’s report on two community center employees losing their jobs hint of the grueling choices coming soon.

However, in an interview with Metro News, Huntington City Council finance director Steve Williams predicted that only the Police and Fire Departments will be safe. Otherwise, just as he told HNN after the work session, he predicted deep cuts will be necessary to correct the shortfall and prevent the city from running more than the “casual deficit” allowed by law.

Council chairman Mark Bates revealed at the work session that , “I have polled council and they want to do this as a group. We should do this in the open with the full body.”

Wolfe told the work session,  “We will have various options [to present Tuesday],” but council finance chairman Steve Williams does not want a la carte choices. “It’s your responsibility [Mr. Mayor] to bring a recommended choice.”

The statements were based on figures in the  PRELIMINARY auditor’s report that calculated a $4.2 million dollar legacy pension contribution shortfall.

Economist and former city councilman Dr Cal Kent indicated that an actuarial study includes hundreds of assumptions in its variables. Two, for example, that MAY have caused the amounts to be higher than earlier projected range from investment returns on stock market instruments to the possibility of a greater number of  retirees than predicted who fell under the legacy plan.

In any event, Williams has stated the cuts “will not be pretty.”

Both Williams and councilman Jim Insco had argued for more immediate cuts once the initial $2.3 million dating to fiscal 2009 and 2010 became known. The administration wanted to have the 2011 figure ($1.9 million) available and announce cuts based on both prongs.

Williams has predicted “massive cuts” including job eliminations and layoffs. Dr. Kent predicted fee increases and furloughs.

Council chairman Mark Bates told members of the administration, “I have polled council and they want to do this as a group. We should do this in the open with the full body.”

The strategy for the financial shortfall will be correcting the $4 million dollar shortfall , which is likely to be more than the casual deficit allowed by law. The second prong of the strategy will be to determine the pension contribution shortage itself. The City has until February 28, 2013 to fund its share and still receive the full state match.

City council meets Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Huntington City Hall. The meeting will be televised on Comcast Channel 24.