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Balto. Co. schools to offer retirement plan choices

The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County school employees will be able to choose from among five retirement plan provider options, after an 8-0 school board vote last night.

The five recommended vendors for 403(b) retirement plans are: AIG Retirement, ING Life Insurance & Annuity Co., Lincoln Financial Group, MetLife Resources and Security Financial Resources & Security Distributors Inc. It is expected that one will be selected as a third-party administrator, school officials said.

Board member Valerie A. Roddy recused herself, citing a potential conflict of interest: Her husband's law firm represents one of the bidders. Board President JoAnn C. Murphy and member Joseph J. Pallozzi were absent.

The 403(b) plans allow employees to save money for retirement before taxes. As of August, about 5,500 employees participated in the voluntary program, according to a presentation late last month from a consultant.

A couple of weeks ago, the board voted to reject a change to a single provider. Hundreds of teachers and other school employees, as well as five district labor groups, had protested the idea. Several said they wanted to have choices, and some felt that, with the latest national economic troubles, such a change was particularly unwarranted.

Before voting, board member David Uhlfelder referred to "today's marketplace" in suggesting an evaluation of the five vendors "as to their fiscal soundness, by an independent financial advisor."

"I'm concerned about fiscal responsibility," he said.

Several board members agreed, with one noting that provider proposals came in before the national financial woes hit.

Teachers union President Cheryl Bost praised the board's action.

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