Fire force pensions to get closer scrutiny
By MAUREEN BYRNE AHERN
SEMINOLE -- Concerned about losses two years in a row in the firefighters' pension fund, the Seminole City Council has decided to take a more active role in overseeing the plan and to put one of its own members on the board that oversees the trust.
Until now, the council has appointed two residents to the five-member board of trustees. The city's firefighters choose two members. Those four trustees pick a fifth member.
During a recent workshop, council members discussed the fund's recent losses: $3.2-million in 2001 and $1.6-million in 2002.
"The city's ultimate obligation is to fund that pension plan," said City Manager Frank Edmunds. "It's in times of poor returns that it's a cause for concern because it's the city taxpayers who are going to make up the difference."
The pension plan is based on an annual 8 percent increase. Some years don't fare as well as others. Last year, the city's contribution to the plan increased from 141/2 percent to 161/2 percent.
"The fund is still actuarially sound," said Seminole Fire Chief Dan Graves. "There are ups and downs in the market, but it all still works out in the end."
Even so, council members decided it was in the best interest of the city to appoint one of themselves to an open seat on the board of trustees. The appointment will take place at the Jan. 14 council meeting.
"We would have a stronger interest than anybody," said Mayor Dottie Reeder.
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