Cautiously optimistic: Marco Island's police and fire pension trustees assess first quarter earnings

As two trustees for city public safety pension boards, Police Officer Al Schettino and City Clerk Laura Litzan consider the legal ramifications of pension contributions made during personal and compensatory leaves. The Police and Fire Pension boards met on Thursday. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

As two trustees for city public safety pension boards, Police Officer Al Schettino and City Clerk Laura Litzan consider the legal ramifications of pension contributions made during personal and compensatory leaves. The Police and Fire Pension boards met on Thursday. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Trustees of Marco Island's Police and Fire Pension boards listen to reports on investment growth Thursday. From left are Acting Finance Director Robert Lange, City Accountant Donna Senica, and trustees Tom Kirstein and Vickie Kelber. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Trustees of Marco Island's Police and Fire Pension boards listen to reports on investment growth Thursday. From left are Acting Finance Director Robert Lange, City Accountant Donna Senica, and trustees Tom Kirstein and Vickie Kelber. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— It was a good quarter for the two boards that manage pension funds for the city’s police and fire personnel.

Trustees of the City of Marco Island’s two public safety pension plans heard the good news from financial consultant David Wheeler on Thursday. Wheeler outlined earnings on investments for the first quarter of 2012.

The separate boards met as one group for convenience and economy of consultants’ time. The two pension plans are discrete with no comingled funds, but their boards often meet to review and share financial statements and market trends that could benefit both.

Wheeler explained each investment and earnings result from a mix of fixed income and equity funds. Trustees for both plans hoped to meet a 7.5 percent earnings benchmark. In the first quarter of 2012, the fire fund fared better.

Marco Island’s firefighters’ fund totaled nearly $6.9 million on March 31. Investments were divided into 62 percent stocks and 38 percent all other assets. Returns for the quarter averaged 8.8 percent, net of fees.

Fire pension trustees, looking for an investment balance of 60 percent equity and 40 percent fixed income, briefly considered rebalancing their portfolio. Wheeler suggested equity accounts were within the pension’s guidelines. The fire pension board decided to keep the investment mix as it appeared on the March 31 statement.

A smaller fund, Marco Island’s police pension totaled nearly $4.1 million at the end of the first quarter. Funds were invested 61 percent in equities and 39 percent fixed income. Returns for the quarter averaged 7.3 percent, net of fees. The difference in performance of the two plans was the choice of equity accounts, Wheeler said.

“This pension started later than fire with not much money starting out,” said Vickie Kelber, a police pension trustee. “We saw bad times were coming and looked at being conservative. In good times, we’re not doing as well.”

Police pension trustees discussed redistributing investments to reach the 7.5 percent benchmark. Discussion was continued until the Board’s next meeting pending information from investment advisors.

The police pension fund received withdrawal requests from three retiring officers: Torsan Cowart, James Hassig and Glenn Zirgibel. Two officers, Richard Stoltenborg and George Nagy, left the department and withdrew their fund contributions.

Police pension trustees asked attorney Pedro Herrera for clarification on reinstating Officer John Derrig to the pension plan. Derrig removed contributed funds from the plan after being terminated from the force. Following his reinstatement, Derrig requested to be allowed to rejoin the pension plan.

Herrera said Derrig would need to return the $13,557 he removed from the plan and contribute 5 percent of any back pay he received after reinstatement. The trustees moved to reinstate Derrig to receive pension benefits after repayment of the removed amount, the back pay percent and all actuarial required amounts.

Herrera informed fire pension trustees that his firm was waiting for medical and social security records for former Marco Island firefighter Nicholas Berger who requested disability payments from the firefighters’ pension fund. Berger was terminated from the department in June 2010 after an extended leave. A hearing on Feb. 28 to assess his eligibility for pension payments was continued until additional records could be obtained.

The trustees meeting was attended by Robert Lange, newly appointed acting finance director for the city.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features