Washington County Schools Must Dedicate More Funding to Retiree Benefits

Washington County Public Schools needs to step up its contribution for some retiree benefits by “several million dollars a year,” Chief Financial Officer Chris South told the school board last week, according to the Herald Mail.

The recommended increase in the school system’s contributions comes from Bolton Partners, whose approach is “somewhat more conservative” than the Washington County Board of Education’s previous health-care consultants, he said.

But South told the seven-member school board on Sept. 1 that Bolton’s figures are “more in line” with similar consultants’ actions.

Currently, the school system puts about $3.5 million a year into the fund for “other post-employment benefits,” South said Tuesday.

For more information, and a video of South’s remarks, see the Herald Mail.

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) offers advice to governments on how to sustain OPEB costs which government employers are now also required to recognize in their financial accounting as their employees earn the benefits. The GFOA states,

The real issue is not the new accounting for OPEB, as such, but rather the underlying budgetary and funding challenge that those accounting standards highlight. Meeting this challenge will require government finance officers to ensure that these benefits are sustainable over the long term – that they are affordable to stakeholders, competitive, and sufficient to meet employee needs, and that they may be reasonably expected to remain so.

For more information on how to ensure sustainability of OPEB programs, including a list of recommended actions, see the GFOA.