Midstate mayors warn municipal pension crisis looms

Written by Tim Lambert and Radio Pennsylvania | May 7, 2015 4:52 AM

Photo by Emily Previti/Keystone Crossroads

FILE PHOTO: Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray

(Harrisburg) -- Communities across the state have been sounding the alarm about the municipal pension crisis.

Wednesday, the House State Government Committee heard from city and municipal officals, including midstate mayors, about the challenges they are facing as well as proposed legislation designed to address the problem.

Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray testified in favor of a plan which calls for changes in pension plans for newly hired municipal employees.

"All things being equal, we cannot tackle the municipal pension crisis without reducing benefits and employer costs," he says.

Gray calls the current public pension system unsustainable and outdated.

"We are working to strike a balance to between costs and the ability to handle those costs within the current local government structure. This balance will ensure public safety personnel have jobs and receive pensions that they have earned and are entitled to receive," he says. "It will also ensure our communities are attractive places to live, start businesses and raise future Pennsylvanians."

The panel is considering a bill which would gradually transform the current system to a defined contribution plan.

York Mayor Kim Bracey also testified.

Keystone Crossroads recently produced an extensive series about the municipal pension crisis, "Pennsylvania Pensions: Is the Promise Broken."

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