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Tomorrow: Pension workshop for municipalities

January 23, 2012

Legislative leaders have been taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to their thinking on the overhaul of locally managed pensions. For now, they seem content to let the process outlined in the new pension law — of further study for municipal pensions — to play out. That process will get an informal start tomorrow when Treasurer Gina Raimondo stages a workshop:

The [pension] law requires municipalities to submit to the local plan study commission an actuarial experience study and actuarial valuations with current investment, mortality and other actuarial assumptions by April 1, 2012.

 “It is impossible to solve a problem until there is an accurate assessment of its magnitude. With updates to these studies, cities and towns will have a better understanding of the true extent of their local pension liabilities,” Raimondo said. “This workshop is designed to set local leaders on a path toward understanding how to tackle and meet this important deadline.”

Workshop topics include:
– Fiduciary training, presented by Treasury staff
– Working with an actuary to complete an experience study and valuation presented by Joseph Newton of Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company
– An outside perspective: Tackling the challenge, presented by former New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch
– Determining an appropriate rate of return presented by Allan Emkin of Pension Consulting Alliance

Newton of GRS and Emkin of PCA are consultants for the State of Rhode Island and were involved in the state-administered pension reform effort. Ravitch will speak about tackling financial challenges, specifically his task force work with former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to examine several issues facing state governments, as well as his work in 1975 in New York City to avoid bankruptcy.

Collectively, the 36 locally-administered plans have a reported unfunded liability of approximately $2.1 billion, and funding level of only 40 percent. Unlike the state-administered system, which is governed by statute, many of these local plans are determined by collectively-bargained contracts. The local plans each have unique situations, varying widely in their design, funding status, and membership.

Seating is limited, with priority given to local plan fiduciaries.

Who: Treasurer Raimondo, Richard Ravitch, former Lt. Governor of New York, representative from GRS, PCA
What: Pension Workshop: Helping Cities and Towns Meet the April 1 RIRSA Deadline
When: Tuesday, January 24, 2012
8 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. check-in
8:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. 
Where: CCRI – Knight Campus, Room 4090
400 East Avenue, Warwick, RI 02886

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