PA System Wants Expedited Review of Pittsburgh Plan’s Funding

March 28, 2011 ( – Under state law, the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System will take over municipal retirement systems with less than 50% of the assets needed to meet liabilities.

Pittsburgh was granted a two-year exemption in the bill, and that two years is up (see Pittsburgh Gets Extension in House Version of Pension Reform). The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Jim Allen, secretary of the state municipal retirement system, said he wants the analysis of Pittsburgh’s funding level completed as quickly as possible.   

Under the law, the city has until the end of August to provide its funding analysis to the Public Employee Retirement Commission, which will need about two weeks to verify the city’s analysis, the news report said. The law would require Allen to complete a takeover of the city fund by October 31 — but he said there’s no way he can meet that deadline if the retirement commission’s decision isn’t available until mid-September. According to the Post-Gazette, he said he needs months, not weeks, to get the job done.  

The Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System board has directed Allen to send a letter to city officials and the retirement commission asking for a speeded-up review of the city’s funding level.  

Bill Urbanic, Pittsburgh city council budget director, told the newspaper he remains confident that the city met the 50% funding requirement and avoided a pension takeover. In last-minute action, the council attempted to meet the requirement with $45 million cash and the “net present value” of $735.7 million in parking tax revenues that will be dedicated to the fund over 31 years (see Pittsburgh Council Pulls Off Pension Fix).