Hamden Legislative Council members preparing for Monday night's meeting at the Government Center
Fourteen HFD retirees attended last night's Legislative Council meeting devoted exclusively to discussing the current pension crisis with three financial advisors.
The financial advisors who were questioned by the Council suggested that remedies to the pension underfunding will be tough and might include Pension Obligation Bonding, full funding and the so-called "pay as you go" method to fulfill the Town's pension obligations.
They warned that the worst case scenario could be one in which the State of Connecticut takes over and mandates a municipal tax increase commensurate with the needs of the pension plan.
Several fire and police department retirees offered comments and observations about the pension crisis. Hamden Police Department retiree Bob Maturo told the Council that the financial health of the Town is at stake, but the Town must keep its promises. He said that it is now the job of the Council to figure a way to fix the pension plan while maintaining the Town's financial health.
Former Local 2687 President Bob Anthony, who was on the Retirement Board for many years, stated that the actuaries who consulted the Hamden's retirement board every two years always recommended full funding of the pension plan, but the Mayor and/or Council usually ignored their recommendations.
Citing Milford specifically, current Local 2687 president Kurt Vogt noted that several area pension plans were currently in very good financial condition, even after the 2008 financial downturn, because they were always properly funded.
Council member Carol Noble, an eighteen-year veteran of the Council, said that she was unaware of the role that actuaries played in the planning and proposing of Hamden's pension funding until the financial crisis of late 2008.
Council president Judi Kozak said that she would like to see a committee organized, consisting of representatives from the executive and legislative branches, as well as the unions and the retirees, to help formulate a strategy for funding the pension plan properly in the future.
In the end, the Council voted to infuse $9.3 million into the pension plan for fiscal 2012-13, with the intention of formulating a long-term solution to the pension funding crisis during the coming fiscal year.
The Council votes tomorrow night (Wednesday) on the budget. The venue has not been announced as yet. We'll keep everyone posted.