PSPRS Ends Bonuses, Grants Retroactive Raises

Raises OK’d for Pension Execs

By Craig Harris The Republic |  Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:23 AM

A divided Public Safety Personnel Retirement System board on Wednesday approved retroactive pay raises, including one of $25,000, to four investment-staff members who help oversee the financially troubled state pension trust.

The board also voted to give those employees and one other investment-staff member a guaranteed inflation adjustment Jan. 1, 2014. In combination, the raises will increase one employee’s pay by nearly 27 percent, and another employee’s by roughly 20 percent.

Chief Investment Officer Ryan Parham, who received a raise Sept. 20 and is paid $268,000, did not receive another.

Jim Hacking, the trust’s administrator, sought the raises for his staff because the board two months ago eliminated a controversial bonus program for the investment team that had rewarded employees even when the trust posted losses in 2008, 2009 and 2012. Hacking also said the investment staff had taken on additional responsibilities.

Board members who voted for the raises Wednesday were Brian Tobin, Gregory Ferguson, Jeff Allen McHenry, and William Davis. Those who voted no were Lauren Kingry, Randie Stein and Richard Petrenka.

“The trustees for PSPRS try to compensate our investment professionals with a competitive wage in comparison to the marketplace and by rewarding superior performance,” Tobin said in a statement. “I believe this competitive, performance-based compensation model allows us to attract the best and brightest investment professionals to work for PSPRS and motivates these men and women to maximize the fund’s performance returns for both retirees and Arizona taxpayers.”

The pay raises still need approval from the Arizona Department of Administration.

Brian McNeil, that agency’s director, said his staff would review the recommendations, and he declined to speculate on an outcome.

The proposed pay hikes come as the trust has experienced significant financial losses the past few years, requiring larger contributions from government entities. The high cost of paying pension liabilities has prevented some cities from hiring new police officers and firefighters.

The Legislature during the past few years suspended cost-of-living raises for all state retirees paid from the public-safety trust because it was so underfunded.

Rich Edwards, a retired Arizona Department of Public Safety officer who now is a Glendale police officer, called the board’s actions “ridiculous and crazy.” He said it was surprising the board would grant the raises when retirees had their pensions frozen.


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