Friday, October 8, 2010

Mayor's Office: Pension Data Headed to State

A spokesperson for Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says the administration will send actuarial data to the state before today’s noon deadline. The deadline was set out by a subpoena issued by city council this week. However, the administration stresses the data is being handed over out of good will, not in reaction to the subpoena. Council members asked the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System for an exact amount that the city would be obligated to pay if the city’s pension fund were to be taken over by the state. System Secretary James Allen informed council members that he did could not produce the number because the city never sent him the raw data. Council then issued a subpoena to the Mayors office demanding that the data be handed over by noon Friday. Ravenstahl spokesperson Joanna Doven says the administration feels the subpoena is not legal but it will turn over the data in a spirit of cooperation. Doven says the administration will work with the PMRS in anyway necessary.

Council is requesting the payment information as it reviews alternatives to leasing the city’s parking assets. The money generated by the 50-year lease will be used to prop up the city’s failing pension program. The fund is currently less than 30% funded and the state has said if that number does not hit 50% by the end of the year it will take control of the fund. Mayor Ravenstahl has said that if the state takes over the fund it would mean annual city payments to the pension fund would increase by as much as $27 million, resulting in budget cuts and/or tax hikes.

Upon learning that the state could not make the calculation due to a lack of data Councilman Bill Peduto questioned how the Mayor’s office arrived at the $27 million figure. Doven says the city, with approval from the city council, hired Mockenhaupt Benefits Group to make the calculation. The $27 million dollar number is based on the analysis from that company. Council has given itself till the end of the month to come up with alternatives to the mayor’s plan to lease the parking assets for the next 50 years to J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Connecticut-based LAZ Parking, for more than $450 million.

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