Local Boards Deliver 3% COLA

SEPTEMBER 2003
- Members Express Appreciation For Support - Despite a few recalcitrants, the overwhelming majority of our 104
five-member local retirement boards voted unanimously for new three
percent cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) beginning with this July's
pension checks.

Four
boards voted to pay the lesser 1.4% Consumer Price Index (CPI) COLA,
despite the fact that the $12,000 COLA base skews the true percentage
to less than 1.4% and members receiving pensions lower than $12,000, in
many cases, are living on poverty level incomes.

These
four boards are Easthampton, North Attleboro, Gardner and Peabody. At
the latter two boards, the two retiree-employee elected members of each
board voted for 3% but were out-voted by a 3-2 margin. However, the
elected members of the Easthampton and North Attleboro Boards failed to
support their retiree members and voted along with their fellow board
members for 1.4%.

Jim Dunham, an
elected member of the Easthampton Board, did say that he moved for a 3%
COLA, but couldn't get a second on his motion.

Members
will recall that it was our Association's legislation (Ch. 17) in 1997
that put each year's COLA vote in the hands of local retirement boards,
rather than city councils or town meeting. The law allows the Boards to
vote for 3% rather than a lesser CPI percentage or no COLA at all.

"At
the very least we expect the two elected members of each board to
support their retirees and survivors to the full extent," said
Association President Ralph White. "And in almost every case this was
not only true, but also the board's other three members backed the
retirees' 3%, resulting in 5-0 favorable votes."

On
behalf of our local government retirees and survivors, our Association
expresses its appreciation to these boards that, without hesitation and
little fanfare, went ahead and did the right thing despite occasional
opposition from local officials.

It
should be noted that Stoneham, Framingham, and Worcester, which had
earlier voted for 1.4%, reconsidered their vote and subsequently voted
for 3%. Also, Somerville voted for a 2.5% COLA, and Beverly had
postponed its vote until the end of August.

Members
on the retirement rolls prior to July 1, 2002 were eligible for this
July's COLA. Members, retired since July 1, 2002 and prior to July 1,
2003, will be eligible for next July's COLA.

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