Grand Traverse County Commissioners Look to Fix Pension Problems

“Employees want good salary and fair benefits.”

Pension problems continue in Grand Traverse County.

Tuesday night the county is looking to make big changes to get out of their $58 million debt in their pension fund.

Commissioners are meeting to go over the county’s pension and retiree healthcare liabilities report.

They are hoping to make a dent in their defined benefit plan problem.

They received a 26 page report last week.

The document outlines growing issues and millions of dollars in liability in the county’s pension plan and retiree health insurance

9&10’s Caroline Powers is at the governmental center where the meeting will happen Tuesday night.

She joins us live right now with how county employees could feel the impact.

Grand Traverse County commissioners say these budget problems have been piling up for years.

And now it’s time to do something.

“I knew we were in trouble but I didn’t understand the depth of it.” Says county commissioner, Alisa Kroupa.

With more than $58 million in debt for pension and retiree healthcare benefits, Grand Traverse County commissioners are faced with big financial decisions.

“We don’t want them to happen, we need them to happen. And that’s the unfortunate position were in now. We’ve reached the point of no return in grand traverse county. There’s no place to renegotiate our MERS debt.” Says Commissioner Kroupa.

It’s clear some change is necessary. But the recommendations don’t sit well with county departments who would feel the impact.

“To help the county’s budget issues they appear to want to get more copays, more costs, less retirement benefits from the employee, past employees, current employees and I can only see that this may make it much more difficult for us to attract and retain good employees.” Says Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley.

Sheriff Bensely says when the benefits aren’t there to bring in a full staff, their department suffers.

“With the staffing shortages that we have recently been dealing with over the past few years, it’s really pretty simple. With less people, we will do less. It’s going to be tougher for us.” Says Sheriff Bensley.

There won’t be any action taken at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Commissioner Kroupa says they are prepared to work with all county officials to get things done properly and ensure the continuation of public services.

We’ll have more on Tuesday night’s meeting on 9&10 news at 11.