DePasquale: $320M Released in Municipal Pension, Volunteer Fire Relief Association Aid

HARRISBURG – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has announced the release of $320 million in funds for municipal pension plans and volunteer fire relief associations in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

“This money is important because it helps fund pensions for police and paid firefighters who have dedicated their careers to helping others,” DePasquale said. “These dedicated first responders and the other employees who provide vital municipal services deserve to know the pension they are counting on will be there when they need it.

“These funds are also critical to help pay for insurance to protect thousands of volunteer firefighters, purchase fire equipment and cover volunteer training expenses.”

The total dollar amount in municipal pension funds for 2013 is $248 million being distributed to 2,542 local government pension plans. An additional $72 million is being released for nearly 1,950 Volunteer Fire Relief Associations (VFRA) to purchase equipment, training, insurance and pay death benefits.

“I hope this information is used to assure the stability of employee pension funds and to help our municipal leaders plan and budget yearly pension contributions accordingly,” DePasquale said. “We have seen examples where municipalities fall short of funding realities and create a long-term pension and financial crisis that is fiscally painful to recover from.”

Under state law, the Department of Auditor General distributes the funds to municipalities to help defray the cost of various police, fire and municipal pension plans. Funding is allocated through the municipalities to volunteer fire relief associations.

State pension aid for police, paid firefighters and non-uniformed municipal employee pensions is provided from a two-percent tax on out-of-state casualty insurance premiums; a portion of the out-of-state fire insurance tax is designated for paid firefighters.

On an annual basis, municipalities provide the Pennsylvania Employee Retirement Commission with the number of employees, payroll and the actuarial costs of their pension plans. Municipalities also certify this information with the auditor general’s office. The data is used by the auditor general to compute the amount of state aid that is due to the municipal pension fund.

In addition to distributing state aid, the auditor general’s office audits nearly 1,950 volunteer fire relief associations and 2,542 local government pension plans, which include 963 police officer plans, 81 firefighter plans, and 1,598 non-uniformed municipal employee pension plans. A report detailing the amount of state pension aid distributed to each municipality and funding for VFRAs is online at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/allocations.

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