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  #1211  
Old 09-01-2017, 02:54 PM
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NOGALES, ARIZONA

http://www.nogalesinternational.com/...3ae60d66b.html

Quote:
City public safety employees receive pension refund

Public safety personnel at the City of Nogales were issued hefty payouts at the end of July after a judge ruled that several provisions in a statewide 2011 pension reform were unconstitutional.

The City of Nogales issued pension refunds to 102 public safety employees – 44 in the fire department and 58 in the police department – worth $889,570, according to information provided to the NI by Finance Director Jeanette Parrales in response to a public records request filed Aug. 18.

The refunds, which were distributed on July 28, were paid in one lump sum from the city’s General Fund, said Parrales, who became finance director in May. People who were employed at the time the legislative reforms passed were eligible for the refund, even if they’ve since retired, she added.

At the police department, eligible officers received an average of $8,914, while those in the fire department each received roughly $8,467, though Parrales noted that some employees received a little more or less. The money is taxable and employees will have to report it on the Internal Revenue Service’s wage and tax statement form, or W-2.

“The amounts determined came from PSPRS (Public Safety Personnel Retirement System). They did all the calculations and they will calculate the interests that we need to pay out as well,” she said in a phone interview last Thursday.

In 2011, state lawmakers enacted Senate Bill 1609 which made significant changes to the PSPRS, including suspending cost-of-living raises for retirees and forcing public safety personnel to contribute more toward their pension. However, a judge ruled last November that many of the provisions in the pension reform were unconstitutional and they were subsequently thrown out.

“Before 2011, the employee was obligated to pay 7 percent of their earnings, that’s their contribution for the pension,” Parrales said. “PSPRS said ‘OK we’re going to start increasing it 1 percent every year until it eventually capped at about 11 percent.’ Employees argued that it was illegal, and they won their case.”

Any extra funds that were withheld from the employees’ paychecks during that time, she said, were refunded to them. PSPRS is now tasked with determining how much interest that money would have earned if it had been in the pension fund, and the city will have to pay that amount back to employees as well, she added.

As part of the deal, the city will receive a credit from PSPRS to help offset the costs of the refunds issued to employees, Parrales said.

“Every pay period the city has to pay a certain amount to PSPRS as part of the employer contribution. From now until we exhaust the (refund) amount, we won’t be sending in any money. We’ll be deducting it from that amount,” she said.
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:54 PM
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SPRINGPORT, NEW YORK

http://www.newyorkupstate.com/news/2...e_pension.html

Quote:
Springport town clerk pleads guilty to padding hours to boost state pension

SPRINGPORT, N.Y. -- Springport Town Clerk Deborah Waldron has pleaded guilty to official misconduct and attempted computer trespass after being caught trying to boost her pension by requesting full-time credits despite working part-time.

Waldron, 62, worked for the town of Springport for 25 years. She was arrested in May.

The comptroller's office said she used another person's information to log into a town computer and enter the state retirement system. Once there, authorities allege Waldron entered full-time work credits for herself while working in a part-time capacity at her position as town clerk.

Deborah Waldron, 62
Deborah Waldron, 62 (Courtesy NYSP)
She agreed to resign her position in light of the guilty plea, according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office.

She pleaded guilty Wednesday in Aurelius town court.

As part of her guilty plea, she was ordered to pay fines and surcharges totaling $755 and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, meaning she won't be punished if she stays out of trouble for a year, according to Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann's office

She initially denied the accusations, saying through an attorney that her reporting was based on a formula provided to her by the state comptroller in 2010, and matched the monthly reports independently submitted by the town bookkeeper to the state.

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Old 09-01-2017, 02:56 PM
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KENTUCKY

http://www.courier-journal.com/story...eve/615792001/

Quote:
Retired teachers' past pension increases unlikely to be targeted, union leaders believe

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Leaders of Kentucky's teacher unions are not expecting the Bevin administration to embrace a consultant's recommendation that retired teachers give up the part of their future pension benefits derived from cost-of-living increases granted between 1996 and 2012.

"While the administration has not developed a final plan, conceptually I don't believe they intend to pursue that particular recommendation," said Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association.

Stephanie Winkler, president of the Kentucky Education Association, also said she does not expect the governor, or the General Assembly, will embrace the recommendation.

Winkler and McKim said they draw this conclusion based on meetings they have been part of within the past week with the governor and administration officials.

On Monday, the consultant, Philadelphia-based PFM Consulting Group, presented its final recommendations on ways Kentucky could get a handle on its massive public pension debt, which is officially estimated at about $40 billion.

The consultant's 40-page slide presentation given to the Public Pension Oversight Board clearly displayed a recommendation to eliminate the portion of pension benefit payments resulting from cost-of-living adjustments granted between 1996 and 2012 to many state and local government retirees within the Kentucky Retirement Systems.

http://www.lanereport.com/80881/2017...commendations/

Quote:
Kentucky Chamber reacts to pension reform recommendations

As discussions on what pension reform will look like in Kentucky ramp up ahead of a special session expected later this fall, Kentucky Chamber Communications Director Jacqueline Pitts appeared on Spectrum News show Pure Politics Wednesday to illustrate the Chamber’s position on the issue and discussed the organization’s recent honor of being named 2017 Chamber of the Year.

In reaction to the third phase of the audit of the state’s pension systems released Monday, Pitts explained the Chamber is continuing to be vocal on the pension crisis and the need for reform and said the recommendations laid out in the new report show there is a huge problem facing the state but noted the final plan will be crafted by legislative leaders.

“I’m sure a lot of people wonder why the Chamber is so vocal on this issue, and that is because it affects everyone in the state, especially the business community who pays a large percent of the taxes,” Pitts said during an in-studio interview with Pure Politics.

Discussing specific recommendations laid out in the report, Pitts stated the Chamber has been in favor of moving new hires into the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) into a 401k-style plan, which mirror the private sector, moving forward but stressed the organization has not taken that same position on teachers up to this point as teachers currently do not receive Social Security.

“We also haven’t had a position on moving anybody current into any different type of system. Obviously there’s a lot of discussion about that now after yesterday, but up until yesterday there wasn’t a lot of talk of touching current employees, so we don’t really have a lot of positions on that, but we would like to make sure that things are, as (House Speaker) Jeff Hoover said yesterday too, meeting our legal obligations is important in this discussion,” Pitts said (at 2:00 in the video.)

As the state looks for more money to fund the pension systems, Pitts was asked about the Chamber’s stance on tax reform. She explained the state Chamber is in favor of making the tax code more competitive and finding more revenue to put toward the many challenges the state faces through moving toward a more consumption-based tax system and other specific reforms that would make the Commonwealth more attractive to prospective businesses and residents (discussion starting at 4:45.)
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Old 09-01-2017, 02:57 PM
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MAINE TOWNSHIP, ILLINOIS

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburb...831-story.html

Quote:
Maine Township trustees reject pension certification for elected officials

A measure that would have qualified four Maine Township elected officials for participation in a state pension fund for another two years was rejected by the newest members of the township board.

Trustees David Carrabotta, Claire McKenzie and Susan Sweeney voted Aug. 22 against a resolution confirming that the township's supervisor, clerk, assessor and highway commissioner qualify for membership in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund because the individuals filling these elected positions work at least 1,000 hours per year, or 20 hours per week.

According to IMRF rules, employers with elected officials are required to re-certify their IMRF eligibility every two years.

Trustee Kim Jones and Supervisor Laura Morask were the only voting members of the board to vote in favor of the recertification.
.....
McKenzie, the lone Democrat on the board, said she does not believe the positions of supervisor, clerk, assessor and highway commissioner require 1,000 hours of work each year, as each department has a hired staff. And even if they do work a minimum of 20 hours per week, that is still considered part-time, she added.

"I don't think part-time elected officials should be eligible for retirement funds from the state," McKenzie said. "Our state is in big financial trouble. I don't think we need to add to that."

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Old 09-03-2017, 06:34 PM
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DALLAS, TEXAS
POLICE AND FIRE
LAWSUIT


https://www.dallasnews.com/news/dall...ormer-attorney

Quote:
Dallas Police and Fire Pension System sues investment advisers, former attorney

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System filed a lawsuit Thursday in Dallas County against its former investment consultants and its former attorney for alleged negligence that led to hundreds of millions of dollars in investment losses.

The suit, which alleges breach of contract and a failure to exercise fiduciary duty, is seeking damages from Townsend Holdings and all or part of the fees paid to longtime attorney Gary Lawson.

"For years, Townsend allowed investment managers under its oversight to run amok, plowing DPFP funds into wildly inappropriate investments, disclaiming their statutorily mandated fiduciary duties, and over-allocating funds towards investment in real estate," the lawsuit said.

....
The suit follows a settlement with one of those investment managers, CDK Realty Advisors. The $2 million settlement — which didn't make a dent in the $320 million in losses the system blamed on CDK — also included an agreement for the men behind the firm to cooperate as the system pursued other legal actions.

Outgoing board members approved the lawsuit during a meeting Aug. 10. The system under executive director Kelly Gottschalk, who took the helm in 2015, has targeted faces from the past as the pension's current administration has navigated a tenuous future.

.....
Townsend, which consulting firm Aon announced Friday that it was buying for $475 million, signed on with the pension system in 2001.
During that time, the system invested heavily in speculative real estate, such as thousands of acres in Colorado and north of Boise, Idaho. In the lawsuit, the system blamed Townsend for failing to deter the system from continuing to pump money into such investments, which were unusual for a pension fund.
"These actions caused DPFP to suffer losses and write-downs of nearly $580 million — losses on assets under Townsend's oversight that should have been safeguarded for the benefit of Dallas' loyal and hardworking police officers, firefighters, and their families," the lawsuit said.

Lawson was the pension system's retained general counsel through all those years. The lawsuit describes him as having power that "was very broad and not limited to discrete tasks, matters or issues."


"Had Lawson simply spoken up, millions of dollars lost in risky investments could have been saved. Unfortunately, Lawson's failure to communicate such advice directly to the trustees breached his duties and led to material losses on high-risk investments.
The suit notes that from 2008 through 2015, Lawson billed for more than 1,000 hours that he attended police and fire pension board meetings. His hourly billing rate increased to $525 from $400 during that time.
Lawson resigned in 2015 after The Dallas Morning News reported that billing records for a public relations firm tied to the fund seemed to show that Lawson had apparently discussed a forensic trace on City Council member Scott Griggs, a pension board trustee, in 2013.

.....
The pension system is also involved in several other lawsuits, and leaders expect constitutional challenges from police and firefighters after the Legislature approved benefit cuts, increases in contributions and governance changes for the fund. The system was headed toward insolvency within a decade without the changes.
lawsuit filing:
https://www.scribd.com/document/3578...uit#from_embed
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Old 09-04-2017, 05:20 PM
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It didn't in Rhode Island, Detroit, or Puerto Rico (yet)

so what's different now?

The Treasury can't really cover federal promises, so why would they start backing other governmental promises?
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Old 09-05-2017, 06:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Life View Post
I don't know a lot about pension or Congress or how dependent retirees are on pensions. Will it be so bad that retirees live in poverty or worse? If so I thought the government would surely step in.
I assume that old folks (esp. if they don't receive Social Security, as is the case for some public pension retirees) are eligible for welfare benefits.

But yes, some do end up in a bad way. Example: Prichard, Alabama.


From my older threads:
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...&postcount=803

That's from November 2009, 2 months after the pension checks stopped in Prichard as the fund was completely exhausted. It would be over a year before they started getting money again.

From October 2010:
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...25#post4729725

The town's bankruptcy filing was denied. Retirees still not getting payments.

Finally, they started getting payments in June 2011:
http://blog.al.com/live/2011/05/judg...rd_pensio.html

Quote:
MOBILE, Alabama -- A judge today approved a settlement agreement over Prichardís failed pension fund, which means at least 105 city retirees will get their first paychecks in 2 years next month.

Mobile County Circuit Judge Michael Youngpeter approved the agreement in front of a few dozen retirees in court after a nearly 2-hour hearing.

Many retirees asked anxious questions about the settlement and how Prichard city officials would be held accountable in the future.

About 140 retirees who were owed a total of $150,000 a month have not been paid since September 2009, when the pension fund became insolvent.
Now, that was just 140 retirees in some town in Alabama.

A bigger situation -- Detroit pension benefits (for current retirees) were cut 4.5% and COLAs taken away:
http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actu...on#post8708602

That's a lot less drastic than getting nothing for two years, to be sure. But people don't like getting hit with cuts post-retirement, obviously. But there was very little federal "help" for Detroit in its bankruptcy -- the state of Michigan was involved, to be sure, and perhaps that prevented larger pension cuts.
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Old 09-05-2017, 09:55 AM
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ILLINOIS

http://www.news-gazette.com/opinion/...-pensions.html

Quote:
There's a reason why many of Illinois' public pension systems — including each of the state's pension systems — are financial basket cases.

And it's not just because the overseers of these pensions have failed to meet their fiduciary responsibility of properly funding them.

There has also been the pervasive problem of ill-advised early-retirement incentives that include unjustified end-of-career raises that cause pension benefits to soar, unaffordable cost-of-living increases as well as the run-of-the-mill plundering that goes with individuals' ceaseless efforts to feather their own nests at public expense.

The state is hopelessly behind in trying to police this activity. That's why the pension for Harvey firefighters will go bankrupt in a couple of years and, in the process, raise the question of who will pay for it.

That's why any victory — however small — in the fight for pension solvency is worthy of celebration and the declaration that "it's about time."

Last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation that "prevents retired police officers from opting into the pension system a second time if they return to the force as police chief or join another municipality's force."

Readers got that right. The state passed legislation that bars police officers from getting two pensions from the same system for doing the same job.

It seems a Naperville police chief was accruing new pension benefits while simultaneously being paid a salary of "over $168,000 and collecting payments from his first pension," according to the governor's office.

Let's see now — that's $168,000 in pay while collecting pension benefits from past work as a police officer while earning future benefits from a second pension.

The mind reels at the creativity and nerve of those who seek out and find the kind of loopholes that are present in pension system rules. They seem to have been written in a manner that encourages those in the know to feast at the public trough.

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Old 09-05-2017, 12:17 PM
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ILLINOIS

http://nprillinois.org/post/illinois...again#stream/0

Quote:
Illinois Shorting Pensions, Again

The Illinois state pension funds are among the worst-funded in the nation. Yet, a new state law allows less money to be put toward that purpose.

The largest state pension system covers Illinois teachers outside of Chicago. Each year, an estimate is made on how much the state should contribute. But a change approved this summer means Illinois is paying a half a billion dollars less than that amount.

Dave Urbanek, with the Teachers Retirement System, said the state is following the law and that's the problem.

“Yes, they are providing what they are supposed to provide. But that is not the actuarially correct amount,” he said. “The bottom line is, they are shorting the system of money that should be coming in to the Teacher's Retirement System."

It's all tied to something called "smoothing", a term that means the state can take longer, up to five years, to cover changes in the contribution amount.

All of the pension funds are impacted. TRS has $71 billion in unfunded liability. The TRS Board last fall certified a state contribution of $4.564 billion. The revised amount, based on the new law, is $4.034 billion. Actuaries estimate for the state contribution to be at "full funding" for the year , $6.873 billion would be needed.

"It's another example of kicking the can,” said Urbanek. “You're not paying the full cost in one year. You're paying 20-percent of the cost in one year. But you still have to pay the full cost down the road."

Lawmakers did sign off on other new laws, including creation of a Tier 3 plan that is designed to slow the growth of future pension costs. But Urbanek said that does nothing to bring down the current debt factor for those now in the system.


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Old 09-05-2017, 12:21 PM
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KENTUCKY

http://weku.fm/post/proposed-pension...-worker-exodus

Quote:
Proposed Pension Changes Bring Fears Of State Worker Exodus

More state workers retired last month than the year before amid concerns that the legislature and Gov. Matt Bevin will make changes to state retirement plans.

David Smith, executive director for the Kentucky Association of State Employees, said state workers have been retiring after consultants hired by the state recommended drastic changes to the pension systems.

“There are folks that are saying you know what, I don’t care, I’m going to lock in my retirement now and get out while I can and fight it as a retiree if they go and change the retiree benefits,” he said.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that there was a 20 percent jump in state worker retirements last month.

Last week, a consulting group recommended that the state claw back cost-of-living raises given to state pensioners, raise the retirement age and ban workers from saving up sick days to boost their benefits.

“Who are they going to replace them with if they truly offer up what they’re proposing or what was proposed? Who is going to want to work for state government? I wouldn’t,” Smith said.

Without changes, Kentucky has to put about $1 billion more per year toward pensions out of the state’s $10.5 billion budget.



http://www.richmondregister.com/opin...0ad4b7dd1.html

Quote:
GUEST COLUMNIST: Breaking the ‘pension promise’


Once upon a time, a modest pension was the compensation promised by the Commonwealth after decades of low-paid public service. Due to the government’s abuse of the system, the pensions slowly bled until the “pension promise” resembled a Ponzi scheme, and we had no choice but to give more from our paychecks to cover our supposedly guaranteed retirement.

Enter the PFM Group, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s personally selected consulting firm, which on Monday delivered an apocalyptic forecast: If we don’t close everything right now and claw back every loose penny, it’ll be human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. Recommendations included such gems as retroactively mugging cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) from current retirees, which is as close to stealing money from your grandma as it gets. This means reducing the paychecks of current retirees, many of whom barely get by already. And never mind retiring in the future, because for most people, the previously government-guaranteed retirement would be postponed by five or ten more years. Problem solved, as long as you aren’t the State Trooper chasing criminals or a kindergarten teacher on the floor with kids far into your 60s as a result. Tough luck.

But these recommendations totally ignore other ways of paying for things, like raising revenue, and imply this cannibalistic plan is somehow the only option.

To give credit where due, this problem is not new, and Bevin insisted on paying the Actuarially Required Contribution (ARC) to the pensions in the current budget. This is a huge first step in solving the long-term problem of solvency and keeping competent people in public service.

But the light at the end of this tunnel is an oncoming train. It would be a wasteful double-cross to close the pension in favor of a 401k. It would simply ignore the massive debt the state owes to current workers and retirees and would convert new hires into a flimsy plan, leaving everyone vastly worse off. So much for attracting the best and brightest.

It’s no wonder public employees are outraged and suspicious. Bevin has gone out of his way to insult them, and teachers in particular. Recent hits include describing “hoarding” sick days to “stick it to the taxpayer” and asserting that teachers who consider retirement are “walk[ing] out on [their] classroom, in order to serve what’s in [their] own personal best interest at the expense of [their] children.” Teachers are apparently selfish for worrying about our own bills since we perform a labor of love — as if working an average of 50 hours per week is not a profession.


http://www.whas11.com/news/local/uni...cnic/470819615

Quote:
Union members react to possible pension cuts during Labor Day picnic


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A day normally filled with celebration had another lingering mood: one of fear.

The Annual Labor Day at the Zoo Picnic featured several Greater Louisville Unions where members talked about the possibility of Governor Matt Bevin cutting pensions

“People don't know, they're afraid, and they're just thinking, if it's going to change and it's going to be that bad, I need to get out,” Ron Richmond, a representative with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union known as AFSCME, said.

Some recommendations under the Bevin administration would mean cutting the monthly pension checks of retirees and moving current government workers and teachers into a 401K-style plan.

“People depend on a pension system to really give that stability and if you take that away, especially mid-stream, you're really causing more damage than help,” Richmond said.

Unions members that would be affected by these changes handed out fliers highlighting the issue while at the picnic.

We're basically trying to make sure that we have a coordinated response to this, and make sure that the voices of both future retirees and current retirees are a part of the public conversation about this pension crisis and how we address it,” Richard Becker with Service Employees International Union, a union that largely represents JCPS custodians, said.



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