WV Cities Get Relief on Police and Firefighter Pensions

December 4, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A bill to help West Virginia cities deal with escalating police and firefighter pension costs was signed into law Thursday by Governor Joe Manchin.

The Huntington Herald-Dispatch reports that the legislation, which takes effect January 1, 2010, gives cities the option of closing their existing retirement plans to new hires and refinancing those plans over a 40-year period to pay off their unfunded liabilities. New hires will be placed in a retirement plan administered by the Consolidated Public Retirement Board that is similar to benefits offered to emergency medical services employees across the state.

Officials for the city of Huntington say the legislation is a critical tool in helping them turn around the city’s finances, according to the Herald-Dispatch. More than 20%, or $8.8 million, of the city’s $42 million budget is going to pension costs this year, and under the current funding method, those costs are scheduled to rise to $12.4 million a year by 2015 and not reach their ceiling until they hit approximately $21.2 million in 2023, according to an actuarial report prepared for Huntington earlier this year.

The news report said actuarial projections show the amount of money Huntington will spend on pension costs under the new legislation will gradually decline, from $395,000 less in 2011 to approximately $1 million less in 2012, and by 2015, $3.3 million less.