Valley View sale might fund pensions

HOLLIDAYSBURG – The Blair County Retirement Board is recommending commissioners set aside $8 million from the sale of Valley View Home to make four annual contributions to shore up the county’s pension fund.

The board, consisting of the county’s three commissioners, controller and treasurer, voted Monday to make the recommendation, starting with a $2 million contribution in 2014, followed by additional $2 million contributions in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The county sold Valley View Home earlier this year for $16.5 million to Reliant Valley View Limited Liability Corp., for management by Reliant Senior Care of Philadelphia.

To date, commissioners have not designated how the Valley View proceeds will be spent or reserved, but commissioners have shown interest in dedicating at least some proceeds to the pension fund.

The county pension plan, at the beginning of 2013, was underfunded by nearly $30 million based on a shortfall of contributions between 2002 and 2012. Actuaries advised the county to support the fund during those years with annual contributions from $447,928 to $5.32 million. But commissioners had difficulty balancing budgets then, so they set aside $200,000 in four different years for a total of $800,000.

Commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti, who also chairs the retirement board, suggested at Monday’s meeting that the board forward commissioners a recommendation of $8 million be set aside for the pension in $2 million allocations.

During a presentation in August to the retirement board, Tomassetti and county Finance Director Robert Kuntz included that suggestion as a way to improve the county’s underfunded plan.

In a separate report reviewed by the county’s retirement board, Controller Richard J. Peo noted that the pension fund, between May and September, lost $1.26 million and retained $2 million as a result of selling Valley View Home.

The $1.26 million was lost because the sale prompted some county employees to roll over their pension fund contributions into other plans or to ask for refunds. Others who met the county’s retirement qualifications allowed the county to retain their pension fund contributions and will be eligible for monthly benefits.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.