Pension fund for Baltimore's elected officials 'financially strong'

The Baltimore Sun

While the pension systems for Baltimore's public safety and municipal workers are facing millions in unfunded liabilities, a third city pension fund is in excellent financial shape. 

The Elected Officials' Retirement System for Baltimore's politicians is funded at 118 percent, according to a report released this week.

"I am pleased to report that [the elected officials' pension fund's] investments had a very good fiscal year, with an impressive absolute return of 13%," Comptroller Joan M. Pratt wrote, the chair of the elected officials' pension board, wrote in a letter released Wednesday

Roselyn H. Spencer, the system's director, called the fund for elected officials "financially strong and sustainable for the long term."

By contrast, the pension fund for city police had firefighters is 76.6 percent funded and has $765 million in unfunded liabilities; and the pension fund for all other municipal workers is 68.1 percent funded with $686 million in unfunded liabilities.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has consistently pointed to pension payments as a major driver of the city's long-term financial woes. She has proposed requiring more city employees to contribute some of their salaries to their pensions, while moving to a 401(k)-style retirement plan for new civilian hires.

On Wednesday, the mayor noted that the pension systems for both municipal workers and elected officials are doing better than last year. But she said more changes to the systems were still needed.

"We’ve taken a tremendous hit with the downturn in the economy," Rawlings-Blake said. "I think the direction [we're moving in] is the right direction. ... By no means are we fully recovered. I don't think any of us would say that we’re where we need to be."

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