Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Retirement plan costs not yet determined

October 18, 2000

In November, voters will decide if the sheriffs department will change retirement funds.

The question on the Nov. 7 election ballot asks if the county commission should approve a home-rule resolution for the issuance of general obligation bonds in the maximum principal amount of $3.5 million to fund the countys buy-in to the Kansas Police and Firemens Retirement fund for eligible employees of the sheriffs department?

Linda Scheer, county clerk, said she doesnt know at this time how much money and how much time it would take to pay for the buy-in.

I have absolutely no idea, because the ballot question reads that its not to exceed $3.5 million, Scheer said. Maybe they only need $3 million X maybe they only need $2 million.

Scheer said that if voters approve the measure, the terms of payback could vary.

The finances would be handled through a bond and interest mill levy, Scheer said.

They would be issuing general obligation bonds and they would go out to the financial market and they would get the best interest possible, Scheer said.

The term of the note also could vary.

I dont know if it would be for five years, 10 years X there are so many unknowns, Scheer said.

Leavenworth County Sheriff Herb Nye said if voters approve the change, hed like the general obligation bonds paid out in no more than five or 10 years.

I think they can do it for one mill, Nye said. If you have a house assessed at $100,000, the amount of one mill would be $100 for each year the bond is in place.

Paying off the bond as quickly as possible would be the best way to go, Nye said, adding that hes against a 20-year bond.

The longer you carry it, it just prolongs paying off the bonds which are incurring interest, Nye said. These are general obligation bonds and the mill levy will stop as soon as the bonds are paid off.

Nye said a study is under way to determine the actual amount of money needed for the buy-in. For now, the projected cost is based on a study completed two years ago.

Weve tried to bring it into line as best as we could, Ney said.

The change from Kansas Public Retirement Fund to KP&F is crucial to hiring and retaining officers, Nye said.

The difference between KP&F and KPERS is that KP&F is specifically designed for police and firemen who do the stressful physical type of work, Nye said. The actual physical confrontation with a combative individual, or the physical exertion it takes to fight a fire. We want to move these people through the system and get them to retire while theres still some semblance of life left. You dont want 65-year-old men wrestling with 18- to 20-year olds.

Where KPERS has a 40-year retirement, KP&Fs is 32 years.

Also, Nye said, retired officers would draw about 10 percent more through KP&F than they would through KPERS.

Under the KP&F plan, both the county and employees would pay more.

Nye said the KP&F changeover would apply only to certified law enforcement officers who work for the sheriffs department. Currently, that is 53 officers.

Under the present system, sheriffs officers pay about 4 percent of their gross salary into the KPERS retirement fund, and the county pays an additional 2.62 percent. This amount also includes insurance, and the countys rate varies.

With KP&F, both the employee and the county would contribute 7 percent of the gross salary to the retirement fund, Nye said.

Nye, who has been an employee of the sheriffs department since 1970, and who has been sheriff since 1992, said law enforcement officers face more hazards than other professions covered under KPERS.

Do they get called out at three oclock in the morning to stand in the rain? Do they work Christmas Eve? Do they have to go into a residence where a resident has just shot his wife and is barricaded inside? Nye said.

These are jobs that I dont even like to equate with jobs that are covered under KPERS.

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