Pension contribution again not needed for GPCRDA

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 9, 2022

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GROSSE POINTE PARK — The Grosse Pointes-Clinton Refuse Disposal Authority got a Christmas in July surprise this summer.

“The good news is, we won’t have to make a pension contribution (this year),” said CPA Lynn Gromaski (formerly Gustafson), who handles the financial records for the GPCRDA. She made the announcement during a GPCRDA Board meeting July 26 in Grosse Pointe Park.

During a meeting May 10 in Harper Woods, the GPCRDA Board voted unanimously in favor of a budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year that included a pension contribution of $32,830. They didn’t learn until July that they wouldn’t be required to make a pension payment in the new fiscal year.

Because the GPCRDA’s pension system is closed — there are no longer any active employees contributing to it — they’re required to maintain pension funding at 120% of the plan’s actuarial accrued liability, according to officials at the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System, or MERS, which manages the GPCRDA’s pension plan. As of the most recent annual actuarial valuation on Dec. 31, 2021, the GPCRDA’s pension was 134% funded, meaning no contribution was needed.

“Since the funding level is between 120% and 130%, no additional funds are required at this time and no refund of excess funds can be requested,” wrote Matt Taylor, regional MERS of Michigan manager, in a July 11 letter to Gromaski.

Other than Gromaski, who’s not part of the pension system, the GPCRDA no longer has any employees. The GPCRDA’s former incinerator — which is located on a 64-acre wooded parcel in Clinton Township — ceased operations in 1999 and was demolished in 2001. Gromaski said there are about 10 former incinerator employees remaining on the pension plan.

“It’s nice to see that we’re fully funded,” GPCRDA Board Chair Terry Brennan said after the July 26 meeting.

As of press time, the GPCRDA didn’t have specific plans for the budgeted pension contribution. Brennan said they will probably set the money aside in their reserves, given that the stock market hasn’t been doing well lately and that could be a sign of bad news for next year. He said they’re going to see how this year’s market plays out before they make other plans for the funds, as the GPCRDA could be faced with a hefty pension payment next year if the stock market continues to trend downward.

“We may need to rely on that surplus,” Brennan said.

The GPCRDA consists of the five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods. It formerly also included Clinton Township and Mount Clemens.