Pierz agrees to increase contribution to firefighters’ retirement

Representatives for the Pierz Fire Relief Association were simply asking the Pierz City Council to approve an increase in the amount paid to retiring firefighters for each year of service.  But the Council went one step further and increased its own contribution to the retirement fund.

In previous years, the city contributed $450 per firefighter, based on a 26-person roster. Townships covered by the Pierz Fire Department also contribute to the Pierz Fire Relief Association for the retirement benefits of firefighters.

Firefighter Steve Boser said retirement assets for the Department started at $603,830 at the start of 2017. The city’s contribution (based on the $450 per firefighter, 26-man roster), and the townships’ was estimated at $23,400. A 5 percent return on the investment was estimated at $31,362 plus a 2 percent state aid estimate of $48,000, would mean the end of the year total was estimated at  $706,592.

Boser said because that amount would mean the retirement account would be funded by 112 percent, the Department asked that the city vote to approve an increase in the per-year retirement benefit from $1,900 per year of service to $2,100.

However, Mayor Toby Egan, who retired from the department last year, asked that the city’s contribution be increased as well, to $550 per firefighter, based on a 26-man roster.

He told the Council when the economic downturn occurred in 2007-2008 and the retirement portfolio took a substantial hit, the firefighters themselves voted to decrease the amount of retirement per year of service to $1,300 and had slowly increased it as finances improved.

Egan also noted all the fundraisers the firefighters took part in and the funds raised distributed to the community, the amount in grants the department applied for (he thought about $700,000 over the last decade), and for covering the second largest service area in the state.

The mayor pointed out the city guarantees the retirement funds will be there when needed. If another downturn in the economy should happen, that could mean big bucks for the city.

Even if all of the retirement funds saved were lost, the city is required to pay the benefits.

However, Egan said the firefighters showed their willingness to decrease the amount per year of service if that should happen, as they did during 2007-2008.

Pierz City Council Briefs

In other business Monday, the Pierz City Council:

  • Approved the updates to its comprehensive plan, including the addition of the city’s zoning map and the process to review the plan a couple times a year; and
  • Approved posting for staff at the city’s municipal golf course and clubhouse including a clubhouse lead/manager, at a rate of $11 – $14 per hour, clubhouse staff, at a rate of $9.50 – $11, and grounds crew members, also at a rate of $9.50 – $11, all depending upon experience.

The Council’s next meeting is Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. at City Hall.