GF Firemen's Pension seeks new money manager

Friday, December 7, 2012

GREEN FOREST -- The Board of Trustees for the Green Forest Firemen's Pension Fund is seeking a new money manager after learning that Merrill Lynch will withdraw from the municipal pension business. Mayor Charles Reece delivered that news to City Council members Monday night.

Merrill Lynch had managed the fund's assets -- approximately $125,000 as of this week -- since 2008. Trustees will now decide whether to hire another financial adviser or transfer administration of the fund, instead, to the state.

The Arkansas Local Police and Fire Retirement System, established by the Legislature in 1982, invests pension contributions and processes benefits for all firemen who retired after Jan. 1, 1983.

The Green Forest fund, however, was established before the system took effect and remains locally administered. Only 11 individuals -- firefighters and their survivors -- still draw benefits from the fund, the rest having been absorbed into the state system.

It is possible to transfer administration of the local fund to the state -- a process known as "consolidation." David Clark, executive director of the state system, said some 147 local pension boards had already done so.

Chris Trask, one of the five retired firemen who oversee the Green Forest fund, said the trustees had not yet decided whether to follow suit.

However, Mayor Charles Reece said he would prefer doing so. Clark said merging with the state system would remove the administrative burden of the fund from city staff, who would no longer have to submit financial reports to the state or process benefits payments.

Should trustees choose to pursue consolidation, Clark said the state could not begin processing the city's request until Apr. 1 and it would likely be mid-March before the process would be complete.

Before that can happen, he said, the trustees would have to pass a resolution in support of the move, and the Green Forest City Council would have to authorize the mayor by ordinance to enter into agreement with the state. After this was accomplished, the city would begin transferring its assets and member data to Little Rock.

The Green Forest City Council will meet at 6 p.m. on Dec. 18 to consider their options. The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at Green Forest City Hall, located just south of the intersection of South Springfield Avenue and Main Street. For more information, call 870-438-5568.

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