ALBANY -- The Albany City Commission will decide Tuesday whether to amend its pension ordinance and abandon automatic cost-of-living pay increases for its retirees in favor of discretionary increases.
Public Works Director Phil Roberson, who also heads up the city's pension board, told commissioners that making the COLAs discretionary is projected to essentially erase a $23 million liability on the city's program over the next 30 years and would boost the plan's funding level to above 70 percent.
"Our main focus is that we shoulder the burden for the pension plan equally amongst retirees, active employees and the public, so that we can continue to fund this program, which is a good program for active employees and retirees, that it's sustainable for a long time," Roberson said.
Currently, city employees put up to 34 percent of their salaries into the city's retirement plan and when they retire, they get the amount accrued in the plan, plus annual, automatic pay increases.
Those pay increases are costing the city roughly $500,000 each year to maintain, a cost that would continue to rise each year.
"It doesn't mean employees won't ever get an increase to their retirement plan, it just means that there will be several triggers that will have to be met before a vote is taken," Roberson said.
Those triggers include the plan having to be at a funding ratio above 70 percent and meeting the 30-year amortization for liabilities.
Employees stopped receiving automatic pay increases several years ago, but retirees continue to receive them.