Capitol Recap: Proposed Municipal Pensions Fix Would Allow Skipping Public Bids

Nov 25, 2015

The Commonwealth's facilities and maintenance staff set up a tree donated by the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers' Association on the front steps of the Capitol in Harrisburg.
Credit Emily Previti / Keystone Crossroads

The exemption would apply to 98 percent of Pennsylvania's municipal retirement systems.

Susquehanna Township's figured out a way to save $40,000 a year, every year.

That's three percent of their budget, freed up. Without compromising anything for residents, or firing anyone.

But to public officials in the 25,000 person community, getting there was almost not worth the trouble.

The $40,000 savings was reached through hiring a new investment manager for the township pension funds. In Pennsylvania, municipalities have to follow a very specific process to do that. The goal is transparency and protection. But the execution, critics say, overwhelms some officials and seems to discourage some financial professionals from doing business with them.

So there's a push to get rid of the public bidding rules through a bill (House Bill 414) - that, opponents say, goes too far and is "not good  public policy." (words of State Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna)

"How to make it a little easier? I don’t know. Is there a medium ground between doing nothing and overdoing it?" says Susquehanna Township Manager Gary Myers. "You want to have protections, but don’t want to go to the point of the absurd."

For more on this report, visit the site of our partner Keystone Crossroads