The stock market decline has put a dent in the City of Pittsburgh's pension fund. At its quarterly meeting, the city's Pension Trust Fund Board revealed that the already troubled pension fund bell from $385 million at the beginning of the year to $261 million at the end of November.
The fund has about 29% of what it should have to cover what is ultimately due to current workers and retirees. The board agreed to increase payments from the city's annual budget by 6 to 8 million dollars a year. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says the city's five year fiscal plan already called for annual 5% increases in payments to the pension fund and this decision will instead boost those contributions by 10 to 15%. Ravenstahl says the city is taking steps but ultimately needs help from the state. He sent a letter to the administration and the legislature outlining his pension reform plan which was just approved by the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities. That reform plan calls for changing the state aid pension formula; preventing overtime from counting toward pension calculations; and, allowing for the consolidation of pension plans.
Ravenstahl says the city is doing what it can control but officials are "keeping their fingers crossed" and "holding their breath" hoping that the economic downturn ends as quickly as possible.