What’s Up at SMART?

Could it be that SMART is the new role model for pension reform? Hard to believe, I know, but the SMART board approved on April 18th an innovative pension plan expected to cover all but a handful of current employees as the district gears up and starts hiring for construction of the commuter rail line. The district is expecting to hire about 100 workers in the next year (a far cry from the 1,000 workers General Manager Farhad Mansourian told the Press Democrat last August he expected to hire before the end of 2011), all of whom will be covered under the new plan. The new plan adopts a 2% at 60 formula, calculates pensions on base income excluding specialty pay, unused sick leave and vacation time, requires a three year average of income for pension computation, and perhaps most interestingly, requires employees to share equally with the employer the annual contributions and all future cost increases. The plan includes a 2% COLA adjustment for retirees and a match of up to 2% of the employee’s salary into a deferred contribution plan. It is too bad of course that SMART previously approved a much more generous plan for its current employees including payment of the employee’s entire contributive share, but still, improvement should be acknowledged.

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