Luzerne County Is Looking For New Fund Adviser

April 30, 2004 ( - The Luzerne County Retirement Board is taking its search for a pension fund adviser public.

The public request for proposal (RFP) process will mirror the procedure utilized by the Pennsylvania retirement board when it selected Merrill Lynch as its pension fund advisor in September 2002.   Merrill’s contract expires at the end of September, according to a Times Leader report.

Board members, though, are concerned that the RFP process will open the floodgates to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of proposals.   However, in the interest of finding the best advisor for the job, Board Chairman Greg Skrepenak said he would only support an all-out public search because he campaigned on “fairness and accessibility.”   Echoing these sentiments was Minority Commissioner Stephen Urban. “If we have to spend nights and weekends going through the proposals, so be it,” Urban said.

The public microscope will be turned on high when the Pennsylvania county begins the process because of the very public federal lawsuit the fund was involved in to recover $75 million in losses. In the suit, the fund alleges former pension consultants and money managers were paid excessive fees and commissions from the pension fund in exchange for donations for political reelection campaigns (SeePA Country Seeks Halt To Pension Funds Used for Legal Fees).

As April draws to a close, the fund has a market value of $168.46 million.   This is after the fund has reached a high of $203 million in 2000 and a low of $142 million in 2002.