cheap ireland jerseys Blair leaders reverse pension changes
HOLLIDAYSBURG Blair County is recalculating and restoring monthly pension payments for a half dozen retirees whose amounts were reduced based on changes initiated late last year by the retirement board. Stickel, county controller and retirement board secretary, said Tuesday.
While the retirement board voted in December to start in 2017 to use 4 percent in the payment calculation, the board rescinded that action at an Aug. 28 meeting, commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb acknowledged in a statement provided Monday.
The vote to rescind, Erb said, was taken based on advice rendered by the law firm of McNees,
Wallace Nurick with offices in State College and Lancaster.
The retirement board also rescinded an additional action assigning employees hired after Jan. 31, 2017, to a new classification expected to result in smaller pension payments. At this time, newly hired employees are assigned to an existing classification.
Altoona attorney William Haberstroh said Tuesday that he met with Erb and County Administrator Helen Schmitt a few weeks ago and advised them of a forthcoming lawsuit. there were others who wanted to be included. than 30 people contacted Haberstroh office about the reduced pension or anticipated reduction because of the board actions.
the retirement board did was a dastardly act a conscious effort to defraud those employees of the 7 percent, Haberstroh said.
Retirement board members said the 4 percent calculation would help the county underfunded plan and keep that pension benefit option competitive with private sector options also available to retiring employees.
But county employees said they didn become aware of the change until the monthly pension checks for newly retired employees were as reduced by as much as $200 from earlier estimates.
Stickel said Tuesday that his office is recalculating monthly pension payments for five or six retirees affected by the December votes and now by the votes to rescind. The difference in those amounts ranges between a low of $15 a month to a high of about $200 a month.
But a $200 a month difference, Haberstroh said, can add up to $60,
000 to $70,000 during a lifetime. And based on case law, Haberstroh said that compensation is owed to retirees and cannot be changed, at least not for ones who have already retired.
For current employees, Haberstroh said he wonders if changes might need to be negotiated with employee unions.
Erb acknowledged that December actions by the retirement board generated questions and of a very technical nature, which prompted commissioners to seek the advice of experienced labor counsel.
Haberstroh said that action was taken after his meeting with Erb and Schmitt.
It was an attorney with McNees, Wallace and Nurick who advised the county that the retirement board actions should have been addressed differently,
were also advised that the cleanest and simplest step to take at this time is to rescind these (votes) and then work within guidelines that the attorney will be providing, Erb said.
The commissioner said he had no time frame as to when the retirement board will be ready to do that. At this time, there no pending action to consider change, but Stickel didn rule it out.
of the condition of the county pension fund, we need to explore all options, Stickel said. if viable legal options present themselves, I would be a poor steward of the employees retirement fund to not consider them. said he advised some county employees in an email that the retirement board may try again to change the pension plan and if so,
the employees should consider their retirement plans accordingly.