STONEHAM - The 2017 Annual Report from the Public Employee Retirement System (PERAC) shows some good results from the past year for the town of Stoneham and some hopeful words from its Executive Director Joseph Connarton and commission members.
The system includes Town of Stoneham Public Employees (no teachers) who now number 274 active employees and 282 retired employees.
And, on the good news side, the 2017 rate of return came in at 17.22% with an overall market value of $92.5 million. This compared to an "annualized" rate of return of 10.11 % for the years 2013-2017.
On the other side, the PERAC report notes the town's "year fully funded" to be 2024.
PERAC Executive Director Connarton pointed out at the outset the "investment returns in 2017 again general compared well with public fund peers across the country and has been consistently the case for many years as long-term returns remained in general above assumptions."
The national debate regarding the appropriate investment return assumption to be used in actuarial valuations provides the backdrop for analyzing these results, he pointed out,
"As recently as 2003, the investment return assumption for 30 of our plans was 8.5%," he added,
In Stoneham's case, the so-called "funded ratio" is at 70.4% of the needs. The "unfunded liability", he reported, is at $32 million.
Stoneham's oversight board for the pension system consists of five members including Janice. T. Houghton (chair), David Castellarin, Jams J. McDermott, Jr., John Scullin and Kathleen Sullivan.
The number of "disability retires" is at 21.
According to Connarton, his conclusion is: "This year has been a challenging one as we instituted a complex and unprecedented system for interaction with the retirement boards, aggressively defended the pension system against ill-informed sometimes malicious attacks and sought to maintain progress towards fully fusing retirement benefits. On all fronts, we have been largely successful."
Connarton continued by pointing out "on all fronts, we have been largely successful, however, recently there has developed an antagonism toward the commission that has been grounded not solely on honest disagreement but seems to be virulent and almost personal in nature."
He concluded by noting, "The commission has worked to establish a cooperative and helpful relationship with the retirement community. We believe that, in general, that effort has been supported by the retirement boards and others in the pension community. It is our hope that as we move forward, the interests of the members and the beneficiaries will remain paramount to all involved."