Pension Board Chief Answers Critics

A new budget was approved by the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System Board of Trustees (HMEPS). It is not the proposed budget that included a payroll increase for the staff. Pat Hernandez has more.

Trustees of the city’s 1.9-billion dollar municipal pension fund decided to continue to operate on the level of the last fiscal year. After outside pressure, the proposed budget was voted down. It had included a 6-percent payroll
increase for the staff that received criticism from Mayor Bill White, Controller Annise Parker and several members of council. David Long is executive director of the pension.

“We spend a lot of staff time working on our investment performance and our investment performance over a ten year period — out of 40-pension funds that are in the Wilshire universe — was number one. We were the best performing fund over a ten year period. And so I think that shows that our staff is doing what they’re supposed to be doing &mddash; ensuring that we are maximizing the amount of money that we’re making over here.”

The pension fund suffered sharp investment losses last year. Long says it boils down to how the pension board operates with other pension boards that make the same kind of investments.

“I’m very pleased and I would hope that our participants are very pleased. You know, I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that would really be very happy if their 401K only went down 15.7-percent.”

Long says they’ll now be operating with about 400-thousand dollars less than what the proposed budget had called for. He adds, it will have an effect  somewhere.

PH, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.