Schuh Proposes Eliminating Anne Arundel Pension Oversight Commission

A Capital Gazette article (2016-06-29) reported that Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has proposed a charter amendment that would eliminate the county’s Pension Oversight Commission, arguing that it is redundant to the Retirement and Pension System Board of Trustees. The chair of the Oversight Commission is opposed to Schuh’s proposal. From the article:

“It’s a reduction of an unnecessary and outdated commission whose functions are being handled by another area of government,” said Schuh spokesman Owen McEvoy. …

The Pension Oversight Commission was formed in 1982 following concerns about the county’s formulation of pension benefits. …

In 1996, then-County Executive John G. Gary created the second group, which holds more sway.

The Retirement and Pension System Board of Trustees meets monthly to hear updates from the pension system’s financial managers and votes to approve a budget for the system each year. …

“The Board of Trustees handles 95 percent of the duties that had been assigned to the Pension Oversight Commission,” [McEvoy] said. “There was a duplication of efforts.”

County Budget Officer John Hammond, who sits on the Board of Trustees, agreed.

Pension Oversight Commission Chairman O’Brien Atkinson defended the work and importance of the Oversight Commission:

“I think there are some elected officials who don’t appreciate oversight; they don’t appreciate other opinions and they want to push legislation through without that legislation being properly vetted,” Pension Oversight Commission Chairman O’Brien Atkinson said. …

Atkinson, who is also president of the county’s police officers union, said the commission meets sporadically because its members’ opinions are needed only when legislation could impact the pension system — and there hasn’t been any such legislation recently, though the commission did  weigh in last summer on a Schuh administration bill that sought to change the way retirement dates are determined for the county attorney and police chief. The commission opposed the change, which was ultimately passed in an amended form.

Some years are busier than others, Atkinson said.

The article noted that the Anne Arundel County Council will hold a hearing about the proposed charter amendment  on Tuesday, July 5. If the amendment proposal is endorsed by five of the seven council members, it will go to a voter referendum for final approval.

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