The revamped GASB 45 Committee plans to move with a speed almost unknown in government circles.
Its chairman, T.J. Barnes, said he hopes it can complete its work in three weeks, during which he plans to hear from experts, hold a public hearing and discuss the issues involved before making a recommendations about what the city should do.
The panel is looking into the possibility of using surplus pension cash to cover retirees’ health care and other post-employment benefits that taxpayers are obliged to pay but have set next to nothing aside from which to cover the tab.
“It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out discussion,” Barnes said.
Mayor Art Ward originally set up a 19-person committee to look into the matter, but carved the number down to seven at Barnes’ request in order to make the task manageable.
Named for an accounting rule, the GASB 45 Committee is supposed to examine the prospects for saving millions for taxpayers by transferring pension fund excesses to new accounts set up to cover the future tab for health care coverage for retirees.
There are a lot of legal and financial issues involved.
But Barnes said he hopes the city’s pension attorney, pension adviser and actuaries will be able to shed light on what’s possible and how it might be done.
“First, let’s get the facts,” Barnes said. “The more information, the better.”
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said he would provide the panel’s members with letters from the attorney and actuary who have provided information to him so they can bone up before the experts come to a committee session.
Since the experts earn as much as $400 an hour, Klocko said, “we want to use their time wisely.”
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