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To:        Pension Recipients
From:    Bill Stefka, Administrator
Date:     December 12, 2016
Re:       2017 COLA Approved!/Election Results/Retirees We Lost

Dear Retirees:

Good News! The pension board approved a 1.5% COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) for 2017 for all eligible pension recipients. The plan’s actuary said the Fund can afford to pay the full CPI-U (all items) index which was 1.5% as measured at the end of September 2016 per out statute provisions. This will be effective with the January 2017 retirement checks to go out next month.

Congratulations go out to Jeremy Burke who will be appointed to serve as pension board trustee for his third 3-year term at the January 2017 pension board meeting. Per our statute provisions, if only one candidate is nominated, there is no need for trustee elections and that person is appointed to that pension trustee position at the following January meeting. The pension board wants to thank Jeremy for agreeing to continue his service to his fellow firefighters, both active and retired.
We regret that during 2016 we lost the following retirees and widows:

Name Date Deceased Benevolent Fund? Spouse/Or Survivor? 
Robert E. Brown (73) 01/12/16 Yes Yes-Patsy
Nelma Johnson (widow of Hardy Johnson)  01/17/16 N/A N/A
Billie Wisian (widow of Benno Wisian, Jr.) 01/17/16 N/A N/A
Shirley Bates (widow of Floyd Bates) 03/20/16 N/A N/A
Sue Taylor (widow of Homer Taylor) 05/11/16 N/A N/A
Julia Foster (widow of Silas Foster) 05/23/16 N/A N/A
Kathy Walker (widow of Robert Walker) 07/4/16 N/A N/A
Robert H. Lange (86)  07/16/16 Yes Yes-Alexander Skaarup 
Charles Michael Henderson (70) 07/24/16 No N/A
Danny Stamper (71) 08/5/16 Yes Yes-Pamela
Lynn Izard (81) 08/11/16 Yes Yes-Sylvia
John Hagen (71) 11/14/16 Yes Yes-Heidi

For benevolent fund members, there is scheduled to be a $50.00 assessment which will be deducted from the member retirees’ March 25, 2017 check. The benevolent fund representatives will contact you directly about any other future deductions as they become necessary. Please contact the benevolent fund folks with any questions you may have.

Don’t forget about the Public Safety Officers’ (PSO) deduction of up to $3,000 annually. (Also referred to as the HELPS Act, first responders, etc.) The IRS allows retired firefighters (public safety officers) to reduce their income up to a maximum of $3,000.00 based on the medical and/or dental as well as vision insurance premiums which are deducted directly from your retirement checks. This includes any insurance amounts deducted from your check for beneficiaries as well. Please remember this is a limit of up to $3,000.00 and your 1099R’s will not automatically reflect this exclusion. The instructions for taking this exclusion will probably be noted in the Form 1040 instructions as the “Public Safety Officer’s (PSO) adjustment. Please save your December 2016 check stubs from State Street Bank which will have your year-to-date insurance deductions listed on them. It is strongly advised that you consult with your tax advisor before completing your tax return with any questions you may have.

Your pension board, staff, and plan consultants continue to monitor what’s happening around the state regarding certain pension funds that are severely underfunded. Although our plan is actuarially sound and has been able to afford COLA’s for the past 5 years running; there will continue to be various legislative bills introduced and entities that are out to “fix the problem”. Your pension board does not take that lightly and intends to remain vigilant during the upcoming legislative session. In the mean-time your pension plan remains healthy and benefits are intact; but if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the pension office at any time.      

The pension board and staff wish all of you a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!

William E. Stefka