A tribute to Ohio's police officers and firefighters will become a reality later this year with the completion of an Ohio Police & Fire Memorial Park on the grounds adjacent to OP&F's headquarters in Columbus. OP&F recently established a non-profit organization to construct the park and memorial, which will be funded entirely through private donations. OP&F has commissioned an accomplished Ohio artist, Ronald Dewey, to create a fitting sculpture for the park. Mr. Dewey owns Light Sculpture Works, an art foundry and studio in Cleveland, and has been commissioned to produce several sculptures around the country, including a firefighter memorial for the City of Euclid, Ohio. Fundraising for the sculpture and park construction has already started through a request for corporate sponsors. The next phase of the fundraising, which allows contributors to purchase engraved bricks and pavers, will be introduced at a groundbreaking ceremony to be held at the park site on March 26, 2003. More information regarding Phase II of the fundraising will be available on OP&F's website beginning on that date.
OP&F Executive Director William Estabrook and the executive directors of the other Ohio Retirement Systems met with members of the Ohio Congressional Delegation in Washington, D.C. on February 6 to request their assistance in creating a national solution to the health care funding crisis. In their presentation, the directors explained that the Ohio Retirement Systems are now spending $4 million per day on health care expenses for the one million Ohioans that they serve. In addition, the directors stressed that they expect their health care reserves to be depleted in only five years. The directors explained that the retirement systems have adjusted their plans to control costs in every way possible, and are now looking to Federal legislators for assistance. Specifically, the directors requested controls on the inflation of prescription drug costs, as well as a solution for increased costs caused by individuals who are uninsured or underinsured.
In preparation for the upcoming elections for the Board of Trustee seats that expire this June, OP&F mailed election notices to all police departments and retirees this month. In addition, OP&F also mailed requests to all active police officers and retirees for address corrections since ballots can only be mailed to the address that OP&F has on file as of April 8, 2003. Ballots will be mailed on or before May 5 and the election results will be announced on May 29. The 4-year terms for these seats, which include an active police officer, a retired police officer, and a retired firefighter, begin on June 2, 2003. Election information, including petitions, are available on the OP&F website (www.op-f.org).
OP&F will transition from U.S. Bank to Huntington National Bank beginning April 1, 2003. This month, OP&F mailed a letter to all employers notifying them that payments made to OP&F's lockbox due on or after April 1, 2003 must be sent to the following new lockbox address: Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, Dept. L-2521, Columbus, Ohio 43260-2521. It is essential that employers remit payments to this new address to avoid late payments, which can result in penalties and interest for their municipality. Ohio law requires OP&F to assess penalties and interest against employers who file late employer and employee contributions. All certified mail, overnight deliveries, and direct submissions to OP&F should continue to be mailed to OP&F's headquarters at 140 East Town Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. OP&F staff has been meeting with Huntington representatives on a regular basis to ensure a smooth transition. The Ohio Board of Deposits assigns OP&F's financial custodian.
The Board voted to approve revised Administrative Rule 742-21-01, Form of Division of Property Orders. The changes to this rule will simplify the completion of the form required for payments made to a former spouse under a Division of Property Order (DPO). In addition, the revised rule includes references to OP&F's Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), which can be subject to a DPO. If a court issues a DPO, OP&F is required to pay directly to a former spouse a portion of a retirant's monthly service or disability benefit, a member's refund of contributions, or DROP benefits once the benefits are paid. Before this revised form can be used, the Boards of all of the Ohio Retirement Systems must approve it. When this form has received final approval from all systems, it will be filed with the appropriate governmental agencies and posted on OP&F's website (www.op-f.org).
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