PENSION SYSTEM UPDATE: SURVEY COMING & THE 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
The economic turmoil, unemployment, and political chaos occurring in the midst of the COVID pandemic is creating angst, uncertainty, and hardships for many Americans including members of HPOPS. Through it all, your Board of Trustees and staff continue to work hard and make strategic decisions to weather the storm and keep our system sustainable as we traverse a period of seemingly endless volatility. Rest assured that our system is healthy and well-funded.
Some members have voiced concerns about the impact of 2020 on our benefit structure, the risk sharing corridor, and funding. In succinct terms, our funding remains uninterrupted, benefits are not at risk, and our long term outlook has improved compared to before the changes in 2017. Also, it’s worth mentioning that COLAs are returning in 2021 for retirees age 55 or older.
However, even though our system is healthy, well-funded, and actively managed in the interest of all members, the Board of Trustees is always concerned with how the current climate surrounding law enforcement is impacting our members. Having three active members on the Board does provide some insight, but the Board would like to better understand how the current climate is affecting your thought processes. To help us in that regard, we will develop a very simple survey for all members who wish to participate. We value your input and encourage you to participate in the survey.
In addition the Board recently approved for the Chairman and trustees representing Plan 1 and 2 to meet with the Mayor to discuss state statute requirements and share concerns of retention of members with an eye on sustainability for years to come. Unlike some jurisdictions who chose to defund their police, Houston recently increased the police budget thanks to the efforts of Mayor Turner and City Council. As we enter the 2021 legislative session, HPOPS and the City need to be united in protecting what we achieved in 2017 in Austin.
- HPOPS BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Above is the posting the Board sent out Friday, but we want to add a few points. First, there will be no discussions with the Mayor regarding a reduction in benefits.
Some may ask what the "State Requirements" are that was mentioned in the posting. Simply put, the 2017 law provides for the creation of an alternate Plan should the current Plan become unsustainable, and we need to craft that alternative Cash Balance Plan. This is merely proactive work by the Board to ensure continuity and certainty should it ever be needed in the future. With our current funding and overall health of the System improving, we do NOT anticipate any actual need for this alternative plan in the foreseeable future, but we do recognize the need to have it identified rather than waiting for a future Board to act without the knowledge of the history that current Board Members hold.
As stated in the prior post, we are also concerned with the climate enveloping Law Enforcement across the Nation, and that includes Houston. Understanding member sentiments, motivations for staying or leaving, and factors that would incentivize retention and stability of our Plan are important. In addition, we need to formulate a united front with the City as it appears the Pension Review Board will be seeking additional authority, oversight and enforcement powers over all pension systems in the State. The increasing regulation and control usually equates to added costs to the System with little apparent added benefit to the members. Fortunately, we have a great working relationship with the Mayor, City Council, and leaders in Austin to help us preserve our benefits.
Again, we encourage each of you to respond to the questionnaire that will follow in a few days.
If you have any questions or information that might be helpful to our talks please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to each of us.