Your Retirement Advocate Since 1973
We are ARSCE – Active and Retired Seattle City Employees Association, with an emphasis on retired folks and their families and friends. We are the advocate for members of the Seattle Employee Retirement System, keeping an eye on actions at the local and state level which might affect us. And, we encourage retirees and active employees to keep in touch through our bi-monthly ARSCE News, and our quarterly luncheons. The News covers City Retirement System issues, and includes columns and articles by active and retired employees featuring everything from travel experiences to other employee get-togethers, to books and films, and to a variety of other items of interest to retirees. Please join us for our quarterly luncheons – a great chance to meet up with old friends and associates – and enjoy the ARSCE News, our bi-monthly publication. The News will keep you current on City Retirement System issues, and also includes columns and articles by active and retired employees featuring everything from travel experiences to other employee get-togethers, to books and films, and to a variety of other items of interest to retirees.
We maintain this website to provide users with information about ARSCE. You’ll find the ARSCE event calendar, information about membership and the luncheons, names and contact information for the officers, and a lot of documentation, including our Bylaws, past issues of the ARSCE News, and link stop other information sources of interest to retirees.
Enjoy this website, and if you are a current or retired City of Seattle employee, we hope you are a member or that you will consider becoming a member.
ARSCE President John Masterjohn’s update, September/October 2018:
Well, I found out that I have at least two members who read my articles, three if you count me, just to see what I wrote. They both contacted me on a comment I wrote in the March/April Newsletter [see below]. I made the comment that the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System was funded at 71.3% at the end of 2016, up from 65.5%. Then in my article in July/August, I again said that the fund was at 71%, and here was my mistake, I said I thought that was pretty good. One reader said, “How is that so good if it hadn’t changed?” (Hadn’t gone up, I presume.) My other reader, now remember I only have those two, was also confused on how the unfunded liability worked.
I don’t want to risk losing those two readers, so I won’t go into it in this space at this time, so I’ll refer you to my source. I get my numbers from the SCERS Board of Administration meetings that I attend on a regular basis. The current estimated funding level of the retirement fund is 70.3%, as of May 2018. This amount is an estimate calculated each month by the staff at the Retirement Office. I talked to Jeff Davis in late July. I did ask him why it had gone down and he said, “It depends on the market.” As anyone who follows the stock market knows, it has been pretty flat this year overall. Also, I was asked to dig up some more information on the losses on investments reported in the Seattle Times article of May 13, 2018 [see below]. Please look for that follow-up in my next column.
Now for any readers who stuck it out through my column, I’ll tell you that Karen and I ferried to Vancouver Island for a week with friends. We had a timeshare in Courtney Bay and drove up the island as far as Campbell River. It was so beautiful and the Canadians were very friendly and welcoming, in spite of the tariffs debate.
Thanks to you all,
Contact Mr. Masterjohn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times reports on Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS)
The Seattle Times published a comprehensive report on the history and current status of SCERS on May 11, 2018, available here.
Former City Councilmember and Mayor Tim Burgess responded to the Seattle Times article on May 12, with this Facebook post.
A follow-up question-and-answer column was published May 16, available here.
SCERS issued a response to the Seattle Times article, available on its website.
ARSCE President John Masterjohn’s response to the Seattle Times article:
As you know, the Seattle Times newspaper published an article on the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS); I’m not sure why most of the paper’s focus took place 10 years ago or longer.
Make sure you read the article carefully, because all of the problems were prior to the current administration. If you read the response from Jeff Davis, the current Executive Director, you can see all the changes that were made since 2013 when Ken Nakatsu was appointed as the Executive Director. As the article states, when Ken came on board, the unfunded liability was around 52% and now it is at 71%. Jeff Davis and his staff have carried on where Ken left off, and they have done a great job; Jeff and Jason (Malinowski) were both on Ken’s staff.
You also can read former Mayor Tim Burgess’ response to the article on ARSCE’s Facebook page.
The main headline in the Seattle Times article was “Taxpayers Foot Bill for Fumbles in City Pension.” It goes on to say that City officials struck deals with City Unions to cap the employees’ contributions at 10%, but that the City also received some things they wanted in return. Also in the 1990s, some of the improvements included raising the floor on prior retirees to 60% of the cost of living and adding a yearly 1.5% COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) which was below the cost of living increase on a number of those years.
So remember, the people who were in charge of the system prior to June of 2013 were the ones who got the program into trouble. The changes that have been made since then have brought the system back to respectability.
As Jeff said in his answer to the Seattle Times, if you have questions just call the Retirement office. Well, I will close for now so this can get into our Facebook page and on our new website for your review.
(This statement appeared as the President’s Message in the July/August 2018 ARSCE News, p. 1).