Where Does Erie's Pension Funding Stand This Year?
Erie City Council continues to struggle with finalizing a 2019 budget. As in previous years, funding of employee pensions is a major concern. The state announced some help today, but the amount is a less than the city received last year.
Next year's City of Erie budget is expected to total $81.9 million. $15.3 million of that total goes toward the municipal pensions. That number is still not enough for the pensions to be adequately funded.
Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania Auditor General, today announced this year's state funding for municipal pensions statewide. The state is doling out almost $300 million in pension funding this year. The City of Erie's share is $4.2 million. It will be included in the 2019 budget. It is almost the same funding the city received the same time last year, and Erie Finance Director Paul Lichtenwalter already had penciled in that amount in the 2019 preliminary budget.
The most pension money Erie has received from the state recently was $5.5 million in 2011. Erie's pension fund currently totals $269 million and covers police, fire, and other municipal workers. According to the state, Erie's pension fund is labeled as "minimally distressed". The state believes the pot should total $360 million to cover cost of living increases, future salary hikes, and life expectancy among employees. So, funding the pensions remains a struggle.
"We have to make a pension payment every year in the $16 million mark. We get $4 million of state aid. So unfortunately, the burden of the other 12 million rests on myself as a taxpayer, yourself as a taxpayer, and the general fund itself,” Lichtenwalter said.
State funding for municipal pensions comes from a 2% tax on premiums paid to out of state insurance companies.