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Hagerstown finance director questions state pension calculation

May 02, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

The City of Hagerstown's finance director said he hopes the state made a $242,091 mistake that overcalculated the amount that the city should contribute to employee pension plans.

Alfred Martin said during a City Council work session Tuesday that he discovered last month that the city might have to contribute an additional $242,091 to the Maryland State Retirement System Employees' Pension System than 2007-08 preliminary budget figures projected.

The Maryland State Retirement System covers the pension plans for active city employees with the exception of sworn fire and police officers, he said.

A red flag popped up when Martin said he noticed the pension increase was 42.35 percent, compared to only a 12.19 percent increase last year.

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He said city officials have spoken with the executive director of the State Retirement System to determine whether a mistake was made.

The problem is that the preliminary budget already has been submitted, and Martin said he isn't sure if the state will rework the figures before the city adopts a budget by the June 1 deadline.

To be safe, Martin said he will calculate the amount that the city owes to the pension fund as if the state didn't make a mistake.

The city will start advertising its intent to hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. May 15 in City Hall to discuss the proposed budget, tax rates and a sewer rate increase.

Last month, the city announced that in its proposed 2007-08 budget, sewer rates would increase 8.5 percent for customers living inside the city and 16 percent for customers living outside the city to help pay for improvements at the wastewater treatment plant.

Martin said the typical rate increase for city sewer customers using 13,000 gallons per quarter would be from about $50.38 to $54.66.

The increase for customers living outside the city would be from about $82.67 to $95.90, he said.

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