Blair narrows search for adviser

By Kay Stephens

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County leaders will interview representatives from four of the 11 companies showing interest in an investment advisory role for management of the county’s retirement fund.

The county retirement board, which works with the adviser who monitors the fund’s investments and makes recommendations, needs to find a successor for Cynthia Karcher of Merrill Lynch. The firm will no longer offer that service.

Of the companies submitting proposals, retirement board members used a scoring system that led to identifying four top finalists: Chris Gable of Wells Fargo, Michael Shone of Pierce Park Group, Frank Burnette of Morrison Fiduciary and Jim Kuhn of PNC /Reliance.

The annual cost of the service, as estimated by the finalists in their proposals, ranges from $44,400 to $92,500, said Controller Richard J. Peo, retirement board secretary. In addition to the fees which Peo said are subject to further review and negotiation, the retirement board can consider factors such as the adviser’s expertise and experience.

The next step, the retirement board members agreed, will be to hear from the representatives before making a decision. They recessed Monday’s meeting and agreed to reconvene at 9 a.m. June 10, an hour before the board’s monthly meeting. They also agreed to restrict the time for each to short presentations and questions.

“We’ve already read their proposals,” said county Treasurer Jim Carothers, a retirement board member.

Commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti said he will recuse himself from the discussion and selection process because he has a business relationship with one of the finalists.

“I hope we can make a decision at the June meeting,” Peo said.