Blair pension plan value stays steady

Trend not expected to continue

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The value of Blair County’s pension plan is holding steady at $33 million, based on a report examining the fund’s second-quarter performance.

A report provided by Marquette Associates, the county’s investment fund adviser, showed second-quarter earnings at 3.2 percent, as reflected in a year-to-date earnings of 12 percent.

Because of available cash, the county’s retirement board acknowledged no need to remove invested money to cover this month’s checks to retirees and other fund participants.

This is probably the second month this year that has happened, Controller A.C. Stickel, secretary to the retirement board, said, but it’s not something that likely to continue.

County leaders have been concerned about the underfunded pension plan to which they’re contributing $4.2 million in cash this year, an increase of $200,000 more than the $4 million cash contributed in 2018.

The additional money, plus related changes in pension benefits for newly-hired employees, have been credited as steps toward pushing the fund’s insolvency from 2026 to 2047.

Patrick Wing of Marquette Associates also pointed out to the retirement board during Thursday’s review of the second-quarter earning that investment account fees, based on the county’s current holdings, are estimated at $91,865 this year.

Of the 13 counties that Marquette advises, that’s among the lower amounts, Wing said.

Commissioner Bruce Erb, who chairs the retirement board, said it’s also about half the amount that was being paid in recent years.

“Every dollar not spent on fees is a dollar invested in the fund,” Erb said.

“Ninety thousand dollars is significant money,” fellow salary board member and Commissioner Terry Tomassetti added. “I give credit to Commissioner Erb for taking the lead on this because he understands it best.”