No crisis for city’s pension plan

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Moose Jaw city employees are under a defined contribution pension plan instead of a defined benefit plan.

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That is why Moose Jaw is not in the same boat as Regina.

“The percentage that we pay into an employee’s pension account, which is then matched by the employee, is negotiated and there’s funding put aside each time,” said Chasidy Guy, acting director of the city’s human resources department. “So that amount is set. Once we match it with a defined contribution, we’re done with it.”

That translates into no risk or liability for the city.

“With the defined contribution, it’s an employee-employer match. The city knows what they’re going to pay for 2014 towards the pension plan and after that there’s no risk to the employer,” said Guy. “There are two different plans. That’s why the City of Moose Jaw’s in a different situation for sure.”

A defined benefit plan, however, promises a specific amount of money in retirement based on a formula. According to the Regina Pensions and Disability website, the formula includes the employee’s earning history and length of time being part of the Regina Civic Employees’ Superannuation and Benefit Plan.

Back in the middle of July, it was announced that the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) is considering cancelling the City of Regina’s pension plan registration because of “years of non-compliance over an unfunded liability and lack of progress with negotiations,” according to the Leader-Post.

There are approximately 7,000 people under the plan, 3,000 of who are retirees.

But in the City of Moose Jaw, there are no unfunded pension liability issues.

“It’s fully funded when the contributions are made,” said Guy.

At last week’s council meeting during the question period for the audited financial statements, Mayor Deb Higgins asked about any pension plan concerns.

Brian Acker, director of financial services, said the plan difference is why Moose Jaw isn’t experiencing those issues and has no liability.

“The only small liability we would have is our portion of our share of the Buffalo Pound Water Administration Board,” he said. “It participates in the City of Regina pension plan. It’s very small though, in terms of the liability that would be there.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority, Buffalo Pound Water Administration Board

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Regina

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