Read “Your Pension News”
by Lou Walter, retired employee, member of the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System
Update from Terry Walter:
Early in 2021, Lou had recovered well enough to be moved to Quarry Assisted Living in Vancouver. He is in a small apartment of his own, although he still requires a great deal of direct care. This is quite an improvement in his standard of living. He was very happy and has a great attitude. That’s the good news.
A few weeks later found Lou not feeling very well. In a weakened state and struggling with some vertigo, he was taken to the ER for IV fluids. He was hoping to feel better soon. We’re rooting for you, Lou!
SCERS Board meeting report:
The SCERS Board met on January 14, 2021. Jeff Davis, Executive Director, mentioned that Lou is back. He would have been at this online meeting, except for a medical appointment conflict.
The new year began with the ongoing discussion of divestment. The Board shared a vigorous defense of its primary fiduciary responsibility to its members, with all other considerations coming in second. However, outside pressure to divest continues, most recently with a letter from the Mayor.
Seattle Times reports on Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS) – 2018
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).