LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cass County employees worry about fate of retirement funding

Published 2:10 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

Following statements made by the Cass County Administration, employees including myself are under extreme stress regarding the pending fate of our pension plan that we all have been promised and earned while working.

Over a year ago, the administration/finance director created a power point presentation for all of us employees to view, which painted a bleak picture regarding our employer’s financial ability to fund our current DB plan that could lead the county into bankruptcy.

A MERS rep was invited to Cass to publicly present info to all employees and address any questions. At the MERS event, factual info was provided most importantly, that any change to our current DB pension plan would not result in any significant monthly savings for the county. Despite the county receiving info from the MERS rep that the new plan would not be a monthly cost-saving alternative and tension has continued to rise.

The DB pension plan is so important to employees versus a DC plan because the MERS managed DB will provide a lifetime monthly benefit check to the retiree until death no matter health or other circumstances. A DC plan does not provide that kind of financial security as once the retiree’s DC funds have depleted there is no continuing monthly benefits. Also, employees within five years give or take of retirement would have to work longer than expected to make up the difference. 

The position of county administrator and finance director conveniently are among two of the positions that would not be affected by any changes in the MERS pension plan as those positions are not a part of that retirement system. As an employee, I and others have researched into the MERS plans by accessing their website at mersofmich.com for additional MERS facts.

Fern Smith

Cass County employee