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Former Weatherwood workers to put dent in retirement fund

Published August 23. 2010 05:00PM

Workers retiring from their jobs at the former Carbon County nursing home at Weatherwood will put a dent in the county's retirement fund, but it's nothing the account can't easily handle.

"We have enough in the fund not only to meet our current, but all future liabilities," said Controller Robert Crampsie.

He reported at a public county Retirement Board meeting Thursday that "In July, we had 39 members who have county service and took a refund of their retirement contributions. Of course, the majority of the 39 are former Weatherwood employees."

"In August; we'll be paying out about $732,092.58. Some of those monies, about $192,000, were already paid out in July," Crampsie said.

The county in June sold Weatherwood, which had been losing money, to Guardian Elder Care of Brockway, Jefferson County, for $11,050,000 - $3,050,000 over the county's initial asking price.

Crampsie said that on July 1, his office sent out 185 retirement packets, each specific to the person receiving it. The packets explained, based on years of service, what options each member had. "So far, we've received 122 responses, so we're about two-thirds of the way there," he said.

The retirement fund is healthy enough to withstand the retirements, despite recent economic downturns. The economy is a little slower coming back than they had hoped for," he said.

"As of July 30, we had over $58 million in the retirement fund," Crampsie said. The fund had reached a high of about $65 million, but then had dropped to about $48 million about a year and a half ago.

"We're back up to $58 million. We're continuing to rebound. I think we have our asset allocation where it needs to be. We're well-diversified. We're coming off last year 22.2 percent return, so as long as we remain positive, we'll be in pretty good shape," he said.

As far as the Weatherwood retirement benefits are concerned, "It's going to lower our assets, but it will also lower our liabilities," Crampsie said. "As we start paying out these retirement benefits, and see our asset value going down, on the other side of the ledger we see our liabilities going down. If a member has $100,000 in their retirement account, we're listing that as $100,000 asset; we're also listing that as a $100,000 liability. As they leave, the asset goes away, and the liability goes away."

Crampsie said that "The retirement benefit is like any other benefit the county offers, and there is a cost to it."

The county last year contributed $1.3 million to its retirement fund and will do the same this year, Crampsie said. "So we'll continue to fund the retirement fund to keep it at the levels it needs to be. And we'll continue to meet our obligations."

In July, the county paid out monthly benefits $199,134.21. Refunds to members totaled $192,605.99, for a total of $392,710.27. The county's portfolio value as of July 30 was $58,679,259, Crampsie said.

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