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Firemen’s pension fund issues discussed at Batesville City Council Meet

Firemen’s pension fund issues discussed at Batesville City Council Meet

By Bob Qualls

The financial adviser for a firemen’s pension fund appeared before the Batesville City Council Tuesday night to discuss its investments. The group of retired firefighters is asking for the city’s help in finding a solution to their pension fund’s pending insolvency.

The retirees and their widows are covered by what is known as “the old firemen’s pension fund.” Current firefighters and those who have retired in recent years are covered under the Arkansas Local Police and Fire Retirement System, known as LOPFI, which was created by state law and is administered by a board of directors.

The older fund is facing insolvency because no one is contributing to it anymore and it lost value through economic downturns and poor investments. It’s administered by a local board of directors and managed by a financial adviser. It’s funded by a 4-tenths of a mill property tax.

Since the fund is private, the city has no authority over its operation.

Erin Eason, who is with Linsco/Private Ledger, has been the pension fund’s financial adviser since 2005. She provided information to the council on the fund’s investments during that period which showed there has been no mismanagement of the fund. The fund had a $611,000 balance at the end of the year, Eason noted.

City Clerk Denise Johnson said an actuary told her that the pension fund would run out of money in two to three years. Sixteen people remain in the older fund.

Eason said the fund needs an additional $80,000 a year for 30 years or $95,000 a year for 15 years to remain solvent. She said this could be accomplished by rededicating part of the city’s 5-mill millage rate. She encouraged the council to do whatever it plans to do quickly.

After an executive session, Mayor Rick Elumbaugh said personnel issues were discussed. Reappointments to city boards were also approved.

Reappointed to the Tree Board are Larry Morris, Jimmy Wallace, and Johnathan Abbott. Reappointed to the Historic District Commission are Barbara Fitzpatrick and Terry King. The mayor said Ron Lewallen is not seeking reappointment to the commission, so anyone interested in serving should contact city hall.

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