Governor Wolf Announces Auditor General DePasquale to Lead Task Force on Municipal Pensions

May 14, 2015

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that he has named Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to head a Task Force on Municipal Pensions. Joining Auditor General DePasquale on the task force will be Mary Soderberg, former secretary of the budget, Janet Yeomans, former vice president and treasurer of the 3M Corporation, and Susan Hockenberry, currently the executive director of the Local Government Academy.

Below is the letter Governor Wolf sent to Auditor General DePasquale regarding the formation of the Task Force on Municipal Pensions:

Dear Auditor General DePasquale:

Although most municipal pension plans in Pennsylvania are financially healthy, a significant minority are substantially underfunded.  This underfunding can threaten both the retirement security of municipal employees and the ability of municipalities to provide basic services at a reasonable cost to their residents.  It is for this reason that I have created a Task Force on Municipal Pensions.  I am pleased that you will serve as Chair of the Task Force. The members of the Task Force are Susan Hockenberry, Mary Soderberg and Janet Yeomans.

I hope that the Task Force will make recommendations that address the unfunded accrued liability of Pennsylvania’s municipal pension plans and place those plans on a sound financial footing for the long term, while at the same time maintaining retirement security for municipal employees without imposing undue risk on them.

The following are among the specific ideas I hope the Task Force will consider.

Eliminate needless administrative expenses by consolidating municipal plans into the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System (PMRS) and prohibiting state assistance to municipal plans from being used for administrative expenses.

If any municipal plans are to remain outside of PMRS, professionalize investment decision-making by setting mandatory qualification standards for municipal pension fund investment managers.

Please also consider requiring municipalities with distressed pension plans to take reasonable steps to reduce costs and increase revenue dedicated to reducing unfunded pension liabilities. To reduce costs, municipalities with distressed plans might be required to refrain from providing benefit enhancements to existing or future employees as long as their plans remain in distressed status.  Municipalities could choose from a number of options for increasing revenue dedicated to reducing unfunded liabilities.  Those options include securitizing revenue streams from municipally owned water and sewer systems and issuing pension obligation bonds if it is financially prudent to do so.

I look forward to receiving your report on solving Pennsylvania’s municipal pension funding problem in a way that is fair and sustainable for municipal employees, municipal governments, and the commonwealth.

Sincerely,

Tom Wolf

 

Biographies:

Mary Soderberg

Mary A. Soderberg is the former secretary of the budget appointed by Governor Edward G. Rendell. Prior to her appointment as secretary of the budget, Soderberg had served since August 2005 as executive deputy secretary of the budget and chief financial officer of the commonwealth. Before joining the budget office, Soderberg was vice chancellor for finance and administration of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education for two years. Soderberg also served as the executive director of the House Democratic Appropriations Committee from 1992 to 2003.

Janet Yeomans

Janet L. Yeomans served as a Vice President and Treasurer of 3M Corporation from January 2006 to May 2012. Ms. Yeomans served as Vice President of 3M Corporation from July 1995 to January 2003. She served as Vice President of Mergers and Acquisitions of 3M Corporation from January 2003 to January 2006. She has held various management positions at 3M Corporation since 1983. She has over twenty-seven years of business experience. Ms. Yeomans has been an Independent Trustee of Delaware Group Income Funds – Delaware Extended Duration Bond Fund and Delaware Enhanced Global Dividend and Income Fund since April 1999. She served as an Independent Trustee of Delaware Extended Duration Bond Fund. She served as an Independent Director of Delaware (DMC, Voyager and Voyageur ) funds in fund complex. Ms. Yeomans holds degrees in Mathematics and Physics from Connecticut College and an M.B.A. degree from the University of Chicago.

Susan Hockenberry

Susan is currently the Executive Director of Local Government Academy (LGA), a role she has held since 2002. Prior to assuming her duties at the Academy, Susan was the Director of Administration and Finance for the Township of O’Hara, a home rule municipality located in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. Susan serves on the Board of Directors of the Government Finance Officers of Western Pennsylvania and has served on Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Board of Directors. She is a member of the Pennsylvania State Planning Board.   She is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh XXI, and completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at Stanford University. Susan has a B.A. in Political Science, a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Sheridan – 717.783.1116

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