Dear Paid Fire B Pension Participating Employer:
As one of the sixteen employers with participants in the Paid Fire B pension plan, we want to share with you some important information regarding future contribution rates in this plan.
Fire B is a defined benefit pension plan for professional paid firefighters hired after 1 July, 1981. It presently has about 363 active contributing members from 16 different employers. There are 128 pensioners (100 retirees, 15 disability retirees and 13 survivor beneficiaries). The plan is presently well funded, with a “funding ratio” of 96%.
While well-funded today, the future trend is downwards. In 30 years, with current contributions, the fund is projected to be at only 80% funded. While 80% is not in itself a bad number, a declining trend is not good. There is less money available to invest and thus future investment earnings are less. Historically, 73% of retirement benefits are paid for with investment earnings; only 27% comes from employee and employer contributions. A declining plan upsets that equation; meaning that future contributions will have to be much higher.
The Wyoming Retirement System (WRS) Board engaged our actuaries to provide feasible options. The recommendation was for a phased increase of employer contributions, 1% per year for a total of four years and ultimately 4%. These increases will put the plan on an upwards trajectory instead of a decline, with 100% funding achieved within 30 years (which is the Board’s amortization period of any unfunded pension liability).
The employer rate is currently 12.00%. Along with the employee contribution of 9.245%, the total contribution rate equals 21.245%. The employee portion is specified in statute, while W.S. 15-5-421 requires the Retirement Board to set the employer rate in accordance with actuarial projections to keep the fund sound. Having received the actuarial analysis, the Board took action during their November meeting to gradually adjust the employer rate in 1% increments starting 1 July 2019. The schedule of projected rates is displayed in this table:
The Retirement Board is using sound and conservative assumptions, although we recognize this puts pressure on local budgets. We wanted to provide you with this information in time to be incorporated into your budget processes this spring.
For implementation help, your payroll personnel can contact WRS Employer Relations Section:
(307) 777-2077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org