PLATTSBURGH — Projected increases in the State Employee Retirement System have local officials grumbling.
“Once again the Comptroller’s Office has raised our retirement and pension costs by double digits,” City of Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak said. “This will cost city taxpayers over $400,000 more this year, which is not only unacceptable, but will also directly affect city services and employees in 2013.”
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has said that, in fiscal year 2013-14, the average contribution rate for the retirement system will go from 18.9 percent of salaries to 20.9 percent. The contributions for police and fire retirement systems will go from 25.8 to 28.9 percent.
The increases are due to the performance of the stock market, which the Retirement System is based on.
“The Common Retirement Fund has experienced solid gains the last three years and continues to rebuild from the substantial market loss of 2008-09,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “The rise in the employer contribution rate has slowed this year, but there will continue to be upward pressure on rates through fiscal year 2014-15 reflecting the impact of that loss.”
For the City of Plattsburgh, it appears that the increase from the state will mean that rates will go up 13 percent for regular employees, 13.2 percent for police and 13.6 percent for fire.
“This increase from the state translates into a double-digit increase for cities like ours, and it is incomprehensible to me that this kind of increase can be passed on to our taxpayers,” Kasprzak said.
Finding a way to pay for the increased costs will be difficult for municipalities, he said, in light of the state’s property-tax cap that was imposed last year.
“It is time that every elected official in Albany immediately address this issue and all the unfunded mandate costs affecting each and every city, town, village and county in New York state,” Kasprzak said.
Clinton County Administrator Michael Zurlo said the Retirement System cost the county about $6.7 million this year, and it will be more next year with the hike.
“The fact that the State Legislature continues to talk about mandate relief and yet its bills continue to go up is troubling,” Zurlo said.
“News of increases
like this puts pressure on municipalities to come in under the cap.”
A portion of retirement-cost increases is allowed to exceed the tax cap under a complicated formula.
“We don’t know what our numbers will be just yet,” Zurlo said, “but we can’t continue to meet these burdens by increasing revenue.
“Over time, this equation does not balance.”
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