Finance Director Jim Martin reported that the budgeting process for 2000 has begun. As part of the budgeting process, 1999 expenditures and initiatives will be carefully scrutinized and evaluated. Martin estimates that the Fund will end up approximately $2 million under the anticipated 1999 budget as certain large projects and Fund renovations were deferred until 2000. He indicated that these items would be reevaluated and, most likely, rolled over into the 2000 budget. Budget items for 2000 will go to Board committees in November, and then will be taken to the full Board for approval at the December meeting. In order to strengthen the review process this year, the Board's Finance Committee, as well as one other Board committee will review each department's proposed 2000 budget.
The Board requested that Fund staff continue to enhance communication with Fund employers in the coming year. Over the last few years, communication with employers has improved as a Fiscal Officers Manual was developed and distributed to employers and the Fund newsletter was enhanced. In addition, in 1999, the Fund sponsored seminars on the new Amplified Payroll Reporting System, which were specifically targeted to employers. The Ohio Municipal League has also included information affecting Fund employers in OML newsletters and conference packets. Continuing to improve communication with employers will ensure proper reporting of pensionable benefits.
As part of an on-going effort to enhance member service over the summer, the Fund formed a working group charged with improving service to surviving spouses with benefit-related matters when a member dies. That group developed the Fund's Survivor Protocol designed to ensure a smoother transition of benefit payments and medical expense benefits for new survivors. The Fund will implement the guidelines set in the protocol by streamlining internal processes, strengthening dedicated staff and building an external network of members who can assist survivors in filing the proper paperwork with the Fund. The project has been met with great enthusiasm from the Police and Fire Retirees of Ohio. Members of this association gave the protocol their full endorsement after staff presented an overview after the September Board meeting. The Fund will fully implement all aspects of the protocol by January 2000.
Senate Bill 118 and House Bill 275, the final installments in the Fund's current efforts to improve benefits for future survivors and older retirees, are expected to pass through the House and Senate next month. The swift movement is attributed to the Ohio Retirement Study Council's recent support of the bills in light of the positive findings reported in an independent audit of the Fund's actuary. These bills would provide a $550 monthly benefit with annual cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) to all future survivors and a COLA program to all pre-1986 retirees. The increase to $550 per month plus annual COLAs for current survivors and certain members, which was provided for in H.B. 194, began on July 1, 1999.
Attorney General Betty Montgomery named Rick Moore to the PFDPF Board as her designated representative effective with the Board's September meeting. Mr. Moore has over 27 years of experience in the investment industry and was most recently employed at Banc One Capital Corporation as Vice President for Sales and Marketing of Fixed Income Products for Institutional Clients. Mr. Moore's full-time duties for the Attorney General will include serving on the Boards of several of the Ohio Retirement Systems, as well as the Deferred Compensation Board. Mr. Moore replaces Kent Rinker who is leaving his Board post to pursue other interests. Mr. Rinker served on the Board for over a year and a half.
The Board voted to waive 13 disability retirants from the requirement to file an Annual Earnings Statement. In July 1999, the Board amended its policy on Waivers of Annual Earnings Statements and Medical Evaluations to establish waiver guidelines for disability retirants who must file the Annual Earnings Statements, but are not required, by law, to undergo annual medical evaluations. Under this revised policy, the medical criteria utilized by the Board for medical evaluation waivers is the same for all members requesting a waiver of the Annual Earnings Statement. Even though the Board may waive the requirement to file an Annual Earnings Statement, the Board legally retains the right to require a medical examination at a later time.
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