Carbon County's retirement fund is growing, officials report.

During the county retirement board meeting last week, Robert Crampsie, county controller and secretary to the retirement board, announced that the retirement fund portfolio value as of Feb. 28 was $73,462,637, which is up $1.7 million from the end of January.

"We had a real nice month," he told the board, noting that it helped with the loss from the previous month.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein then addressed a question he has received regarding the fund balance.

He said that the county cannot use the retirement fund balance for general purposes per law. The fund must be available for current and future retirees.

Crampsie added that the county fund is not actually fully funded because of the liabilities against the fund. That is why the county must pay an annual required contribution to the retirement fund. The liabilities are currently more than $72 million, and the county's annual required contribution was $775,000.

"Even though we have been hitting all-time highs on the asset side," he said, "we are also hitting all-time highs on the liability side. There is a gap between liabilities and assets, and that is why we have to make the annual payments."

Crampsie added that he has received questions about cost-of-living raises and why the county doesn't use some of the fund to give retirees raises.

He noted that cost-of-living raises increase the liabilities and increase the county's annual contribution into the fund.

There is current legislation in the state that will change the way cost-of-living raises can be given. Currently, if the county would decide to give retirees a cost-of-living increase, it would be required to catch up every year that no raise was given, adding to the liability.

The legislation proposes that counties would be able to give a cost-of-living raise for just one year.