Meadville Tribune

Local News

September 28, 2013

SUNDAY ISSUE: County funding surplus


MEADVILLE — Others weigh in

One thought put forward has come from Republican state Rep. Brad Roae, whose district is the eastern half of Crawford County including the cities of Meadville and Titusville.

Roae cites Pennsylvania’s 2012 Public Employee Retirement Commission report, that says Crawford County’s employee pension plan is underfunded by $9,728,144.

“I think the obvious place to use the $4 million would be in the underfunded pension plan,” Roae said in an email to the Tribune.

“There is only 82 cents of assets for every $1 of pension benefits owed to retirees and future retirees,” Roae wrote.“The plan has $45,440,729 in assets and $55,168,873 in liabilities.”

Commissioners agreed the excess workers’ compensation money could be used toward pensions, but it wasn’t necessary since the county has an actuarial study done each year on its pension needs. That study takes into account both current retirees and beneficiaries as well as future retirees.

The 2012 comprehensive audit done by Maher Duesel, a certified public accounting firm, found the county was within the acceptable range of having its pension being funded.

“Cap Trust and the Hay Group (the county’s pension fund manager and actuarial advisor, respectively) give us a recommendation every year,” Weiderspahn said.

The county budgets between $2 million to $3 million each year from the general fund to meet its pension obligation, Weiderspahn said.

“We make a payment annually to meet the liabilities that are projected out by the actuarial study,” he continued. “We have been paying it out of general funds and have it budgeted each year.”

The county has 214 people receiving pension benefits now plus another 41 eligible to receive benefits but are deferring them. There are another 267 active employees who meet the minimum qualification in terms of years of service for benefits, but aren’t eligible to receive them yet; and another 315 active employees who haven’t yet met the minimum qualifications and aren’t eligible to receive them yet.

Those numbers can change from year to year as people leave the system for one reason or another, according to Marley. Factors influencing the number include people leaving county employment before they are eligible for a pension or the death of a person either receiving benefits or eligible to receive benefits.

“You don’t need 100 percent funding because not everybody is going to retire at once,” Lynch said. “The key to this thing is to keep the retirement funded up to a point that makes sense and that’s where the actuarial report comes in. It’s a possibility, but don’t forget that’s a one hit thing when there are so many other needs across the landscape.”

Hugh King, a former county commissioner candidate who has been a critic of government spending, said he feels the county should use some of the funds toward economic development or infrastructure.

King said the county should promote the region’s highly skilled tooling industry to businesses such as arms makers in Connecticut where gun laws are becoming more restrictive.

“We should try to entice them to come here,” King said.

King said he also would like to see the excess workers’ compensation dollars put toward improving county-owned bridges and other infrastructure.

“It needs to be something tangible or long-lasting,” he said.

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