Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Police and Fire return fire against Wachtmann

And, there will be more fireworks this week at the ORSC meeting in Columbus.
From John Curry, September 11, 2013
Safety forces defend their pension fund
The Columbus Dispatch
Wednesday September 11, 2013 3:25 PM
First responder union representatives came to the defense of their pension fund leaders today, returning the fire of a state representative accusing those running the retirement system of deception.
“Firefighters are not willing to stand by while the board and executive staff are subjected to unfounded, irresponsible attacks,” said Mark Saunders, Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters president, in a statement.
Jay McDonald, president of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, said, “This board has made tough decisions in recommending the changes contained in Senate Bill 340 last (legislative) session and in adjusting the health-care stabilization fund to move our system closer to the 30-year funding requirement. They have never misled our membership, or the public, or Ohio public officials on the financial condition of the system.”
Their remarks came in response to strongly worded comments from Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, head of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, who called the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund’s leadership “ incompetent or willing to lie to their membership” and said they are “openly deceiving” the public as well as their members and retirees.
The Republican from Napolean in northwest Ohio said he is considering an attempt to remove the fund’s executive director and put the first responders’ retirement system under the law enforcement branch of the Public Employees Retirement System, already the state’s biggest.
Gary Monto, president of Police and Fire Retirees of Ohio, called Wachtmann’s comments unfounded and “reprehensible” at best, saying that labeling board members as liars and incompetent is totally irresponsible.
“We stand behind our board and our executive director and have confidence in them to insure that our fund is on sound fiscal ground in the years to come,” Monto said in the release. “ Knee-jerk reactions have no place in this operation. The new law that Wachtmann sponsored and voted for has been in effect two months. Let it work.”
At issue is whether Police & Fire is meeting state minimums for fiscal health, which require enough resources to pay liabilities in 30 years at most.
Earlier this year, leaders of the pension system said that standard was being met under the assumption that current robust returns on the fund’s billions in investments would continue. However, under the widely accepted method of making projections based on a longer period of returns, the fund would not meet the minimum requirement.
An independent report this week confirmed those facts, which prompted a celebratory press release from the Police & Fire Fund – and the harsh condemnation from Wachtmann.
The report also shows that police and firefighters should be contributing 15 percent of their pay to achieve the 30-year maximum. The figure will be only 12.25 percent even when changes from the Senate bill approved a year ago are all in place in 2015. But the head of the pension fund says he won’t ask police and firefighters to pay more even if the minimum legal requirement is not being met.
The next round in this ongoing confrontation likely will become face to face at Thursday’s Retirement Study Council meeting.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
web page counter
Vermont Teddy Bear Company