Pension issue affects HJC, library

January 18, 1997


Staff Writer

The City of Hagerstown wasn't the only local government body left in a bind because the state retirement agency has been under-billing or over-billing its participants.

Hagerstown Junior College owes $150,965, while the Washington County Free Library will receive a $375,445 credit, officials said.

The library will receive a credit toward future contributions for an as yet undetermined number of years, Maryland State Retirement Agency Executive Director Peter Vaughn said on Friday. That credit will include interest at a rate of 7.5 percent.

"We credit interest as well as charge interest," Vaughn said.

The $150,965 HJC owes the state pension plan includes money the junior college still owes the state from a $98,000 debt discovered in the early 1980s, which is being paid off over 40 years, said HJC Comptroller Arthur Barnhart.


While HJC's Board of Trustees hasn't had the opportunity to discuss the debt yet, Barnhart said HJC officials will probably want to pay off the debt sooner rather than later if the state charges an "exorbitant" interest rate.

Barnhart said he doubted HJC would withdraw from the state pension plan because a law passed by the Maryland General Assembly last year makes that more difficult.

About 15 HJC employees belong to the particular state pension program to which HJC owes the debt, Barnhart said.

The college has about 180 employees, including teachers, who are covered by various state pension plans, he said.

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