Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released figures Wednesday on the debt and funding status of the state’s municipal pension systems.
The majority of the state’s 1,200 municipal pension plans were funded at 90 percent or higher, according to the Auditor General’s office.
But 562 of the plans were classified as “distressed”.
Pittsburgh is one of 562 Pennsylvania municipalities with distressed pension funds, according to figures Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released Wednesday.
About 1,200 municipalities in Pennsylvania administer their own pension plans. Collectively, they were $7.7 billion underfunded through 2012, up from $6.7 billion the year before.
“It’s gone up by $1 billion with no sight of action yet by the Legislature,” DePasquale said. “There’s no way around it; we need a statewide solution.”
Most of the shortfall was in Philadelphia, where the city’s unfunded liabilities surpass $5.3 billion, according to July 2013 figures. Pittsburgh was the second-highest as of January 2013 at about $484 million.
DePasquale recommends some short-term fixes. Governments should prohibit employees from “spiking” their pensions by working extra overtime, increase age and service requirements in accordance with increased life expectancies, and ensure all plans require members to contribute.
Long term, DePasquale wants local plans consolidated into a state system with job-specific classes: police officers, firefighters and non-uniformed employees.
The state’s auditor general says he will “continue to beat this drum” until lawmakers come up with a way to make municipal pension systems more sustainable.
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