Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Audit: Pgh Pension Plan Needs Funding Now

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner is releasing an audit of Pittsburgh’s pension plan for police, firefighters, and non-uniformed city workers today.

The document says the plan is only 34% funded, or $650 million short of its total $990 million, as of the last day of 2009.

Wagner says although City Council has already implemented a “bailout plan” that would divert parking tax revenue to the pension fund, that ordinance has not been adopted by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority.

Wagner says the city must boost its total pension assets to the halfway mark before September 1, or the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System will likely force the city into making higher yearly payments -- no matter where the money comes from.

“It may be done with parking revenue; it could be done with increased taxes; it could be done by the city cutting services in one area,” says Wagner.

Wagner says in the meantime, the continuing pension gridlock is creating problems.

“The image of Pittsburgh is very important, and the longer this discussion ensues, the more negative impact it has on Pittsburgh in a real and a perceived way,” says Wagner. “In a real way in terms of the bond rating [dropping].”

Wagner says Pittsburgh’s pension fund is one of the worst-off in the state, and funding it to 50% will be only a small step in covering the $650 million deficit.

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