Here is an email the F.O.P. is sending out. We took the liberty to post it.
This is some truly frightening stuff!
"Until recently, the Executive Board and members of the DeKalb FOP were never concerned about the health of our pension. We were told numerous times that it is one of the best in the State of Georgia, if not the nation. We still feel that way, but there are concerns.
Lately we have heard numerous rumors and innuendo about our pension. So we conducted some research. We started with the minutes of the Pension Board meetings posted at dekalbpension.com. Here are some of the more interesting notes that we read:
•"Total value at end of last quarter was $974 million." (Dec 15, 2011 Minutes) That value is down from $1.21 billion. (Sept. 1, 2011 Minutes)
•"Unfunded liability is $608 million." (Dec 15, 2011 Minutes)
•No value for the Pension Fund was given in the latest minutes, which was Feb 16, 2012.
•"40% of the portfolio was not doing well." (Feb 16, 2012 Minutes)
•"Plan was overfunded for many years and had a surplus." (Dec 15, 2011 Minutes)
•"Plan is in no financial duress." (Dec 15, 2011 Minutes)
•"Last 5 years, the pension fund ranked above median relative to other public funds." (Dec 15, 2011 Minutes)
•"Last year ranked in 87th percentile." (Dec 15, 2011 Minutes)
•For the Early Retirement plan of 2010, the County borrowed $12,549,128 to be amortized over 30 years. The annual payment is $1,115,482. (July 14, 2011 Minutes)
•841 positions were vacated by the Early Retirement plan, but the County refilled 600 of those positions. (July 14, 2011 Minutes)
There were several other items that were noticed from reading the minutes, but we should explain the makeup of the Pension Board. There are 7 people on the Pension Board. Five are voting members, and 2 are non-voting members. The voting members are:
Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County
Two Members elected by the Board of Commissioners
Two members elected to a 4-year-term by the active participants of the Plan
One member elected to a 4-year-term by the retired participants of the Plan
One member that is appointed by the above six members
The non-voting members are:
Director of Finance of DeKalb County
Director of Human Resources & Merit System of DeKalb County
In the September 1, 2011 minutes we noticed a power play that has caused some concern, especially when taken into account some of the other statements that have been made at several meetings. According to the Sept 1, 2011 Minutes, Benita Ransom (Human Resource Director) wanted to know why she and the Finance Director were not voting members of the Board. Since she and the Finance Director are appointed by the CEO (Burrell Ellis) that would give him unprecedented power. The CEO and the BOC have 3 of the 7 votes absolutely loyal to the CEO and BOC. Three of the 7 votes answer to the participants of the Pension Plan. The 7th vote is the swing vote, and that person is appointed by the other six members, so who knows where their loyalty lies. If you add CEO appointees such as the Human Resource Director and the Finance Director as voting members, then the CEO and BOC have 5 of 9 votes loyal to them. This is an unacceptable situation for the participants of the pension fund.
In the March 31, 2011 minutes, it shows that Dr. Jabari Simama, Chief of Staff for CEO Burrell Ellis, wanted to know if he could vote in the CEO's absence. He was told that it had been determined in the past that no one can vote in the CEO's place. At least CEO Ellis has to actually be present to vote! Another power play thwarted.
There are several statements that are also a concern. In the May 5, 2011 minutes, it states that "Ed Wall stated that he believed that the Board of Commissioners is looking for a way to save money, and not have to contribute the $48 million this year to the Pension Fund." In the December 15, 2011 minutes, it states "Ed Wall stated that the plan's current assets combined with the employee and County contribution, the plan would not run out of money, unless the employees and the County failed to meet their required contributions." In the July 14, 2011 minutes there is talk of proposed changes to the pension plan. The biggest change proposed would be to take employees hired after Jan 1, 2012 and make them ineligible to participate in the defined benefit plan and have them in a defined contribution plan. That means they would not be contributing to our pension fund, but to their own individual pension fund. That would be a serious blow to the health of our pension fund! The December 15, 2011 minutes also states "For fiscal year 2012, the County will contribute $39 million; for fiscal year 2013 it will contribute $41 million." The AJC recently had an article saying that if the City of Brookhaven is approved, then the County will lose 15.1 million to 28.5 million dollars in tax revenue. We believe this gives the CEO and BOC incentive not to fund our pension fund. Combine that with the attempts to have controlling power on the Pension Board, and we have a situation where anytime the BOC wants some money due to the financial straits of the County, they can "raid" our pension fund. They will simply have the Pension Board vote to "loan" the County money whenever they are short of money. They have already been loaned money from the Pension Fund in the past. CEO Manuel Maloof used the funds for sidewalks and libraries. CEO Ellis used the funds for the Early Retirement Program. It would be unacceptable for the Pension Fund to turn into a "slush fund" for the CEO and BOC to use whenever they feel they need some money.
We also want to state that Robert Robertson has done a great job standing up for the retirees. While he is outnumbered on the Pension Board, he is a voice that speaks up and speaks often. He spoke out against the attempted power grab by the Human resources Director Benita Ransom (Sept 1, 2011 Minutes). In the July 14, 2011 meeting, he let it be known that "he was sick of the County commissioners' balancing the budget off the backs of the employees." We appreciate a person that speaks the truth when it needs to be spoken.
So what are we going to do about all this? Well, we could each be a small voice at the Pension Board Meetings, or we could unite so we will be a loud and united voice. To accomplish that, here is what we propose. If you are already a member of DeKalb FOP Lodge #10, that is great. We recommend that you get active in the Lodge. Attend the monthly meetings at the Lodge in Stone Mountain the second Tuesday of every month. Voice your concerns and let's unite for a louder voice at the Pension Board. If you are not a member of the FOP, it is possible for a retiree to join. For $65, you can join and get all of the benefits from the local lodge except for the life insurance. You will also have full benefits from the State Lodge and National Lodge.
We also need to recruit more active officers to the FOP. This is their pension fund too!
We will propose that the FOP have a Pension Watch Committee. We would like about 10 people on this committee, especially retirees. They would attend the Pension Board meetings and make comments to the Board if warranted. They will also report back to the FOP Lodge what happened at the Pension Board meetings. We think the Pension Board needs to be monitored and the full voice of the DeKalb FOP Lodge #10 heard at the meetings.
For FOP members and non-members, we invite you to the Open House "Chillin' and Grillin' at the FOP Lodge on Saturday, June 16th, 11am to 7pm. We would like to see you there! Feel free to talk about this and any other issues you have with the members of the Executive Board. Come on out and have a good time!
The Executive Board, DeKalb FOP Lodge #10"