Whether or not there will be a special called session for the Kentucky General Assembly, the commonwealth’s pension crisis continues to affect local governments and schools.
The Kentucky Retirement Systems board of trustees say they need almost $800 million more to remain solvent. Around $317 million of that is needed to prop up the County Employees Retirement System (CERS), which provides retirement benefits for state and local government employees as well as classified school workers.
The City of Harrodsburg’s contribution rate to CERS has gone from 19.18 percent to 28.05 percent for nonhazardous pay and from 31.55 percent to 47.86 percent for hazardous pay. The rates had been set in July and were already higher than the city had been previously paying.
Harrodsburg Treasurer Kim Stinnett said it could possibly amount to more than $200,000 in increased contributions toward employees’ pensions.
Cities across the commonwealth have been hit hard by the increase. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Kentucky’s largest city faces a 50 percent increase in pension contributions, from $76.5 million to around $115 million. It’s the biggest single-year jump in the city’s history.
The increase also affects other government bodies and local schools.
Burgin Finance Officer Kate Sizemore said Burgin has already been informed of the increase, which does not apply to teachers, who are part of a different pension system.
“This is for classified employees only,” said Amber Minor, director of finance at Mercer County Schools.
Minor said the school district’s contribution rate had been increased 8.87 percent over the year before, which amounted to around $350,000 more that Mercer County had to pay. That was before the further increases announced this week.
Mercer County Treasurer Sandy Sanders said the Fiscal Court has not been notified of any changes beyond the increase to 19.18 percent that went into effect in July. But she’s expecting to get the news soon.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t hear something in the next month,” Sanders said.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.