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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Shine it all around

I definitely feel "shined on" dealing with PERS and the PERS Board trying to get some clarity and some resolution of all the Strunk/Lipscomb implementation issues. Before we go there, you might notice that the IAP remediation discussion has completely vanished from the "forward-looking calendar". This means that this issue, so important to any still-active or recently-retired member, is now being put on the back-burner until the more profitable "recovery" effort takes place. Instead of having this matter resolved before the 2005 member statements come out, it appears that the Board and staff will delay this ............ perhaps indefinitely. (In fairness, there has been no discussion of a delay; just the fact that the item is plain gone from the forward-looking calendar and suggests it won't be addressed at any of the next 3 Board meetings).

In other news, the discussion of the question of recomputing the "one time variable transfer" for retirees and other eligible members has also vanished from December's agenda. For more information on this, please see the previous two blog entries. Instead, PERS Staff issued a report on the "staging" of the Lipscomb/Strunk adjustments. This report is included in the Board Agenda packet for Friday's (Dec 16) meeting. PERS Staff is asking for Board approval to prioritize the processing so that retirees to whom PERS OWES money will be processed ahead of retirees to whom PERS is OWED money. Moreover, the timing of the recovery will be staged over a several year period and is expected to coincide more closely with the restoration of the COLA. Within the group of retirees who owe money, those who owe a lot will be hit first, while those who owe less will drop in priority. In practical terms, no one knows what this really means except that the actual determination of amounts owed may not occur until very close to the point when COLAs are again due. Finally, in response to a great deal of confusion and contest, PERS has modified the proposed rule concerning the recovery and makes clearer the fact that the "notice", which will come in late March/early April does NOT start the contested case clock; the actual invoice, which may not come until some months, or possibly a year, later is what triggers the clock. It still isn't clear how PERS is in compliance with the 6-year statute of limitations on notification of the error, except that it obviously believes it has the legal upper hand in this matter. The PERS timeline lowers the priority recovery for lump sum recipients not receiving any form of monthly payment -- they still intend to collect, just not immediately -- and also lowers the priority for those cases where research and analysis must be done before determining amounts owed. I presume this means people who retired under the "lookback" and who might now be eligible to retire under a different method after the simultaneous lowering of 1999 and the increases for 2003 and, possibly, 2004.

It appears to me that PERS will continue to shake the tree for every nickel it can find, but seems to be shining everyone on as it uses the "throw it against the wall to see what sticks" method for sorting everything out.

I'll be out of town all next week and I don't expect to post more than once more before Christmas.

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