By Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA – Though some may view the new reporting standard by the GASB (Government Accounting Standard Board) for public employee pension plans with concern, some local entities are waiting to see whether or not any issues will arise. This includes the city of Piqua and the city school district when asked if they had been able to calculate the amount of new liability they are required to report.
According to Jeremie Hittle, Treasurer/CFO for Piqua City Schools, speaking in regards to the STRS Ohio (State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio) the numbers would be provided to them. And whether or not the new liability would affect bonds or borrowing money in the future, stated, “Unless they are going to downgrade everybody in the state of Ohio.”
While some more financially stable institutions may be all right when the numbers come down the pike, Hittle could not see the state coming back to force the liability on the district either.
“Sure, (it) can be a problem, but if I am having a problem, so is everyone else,” explained Hittle. “It’s not going to harm Piqua City Schools any worse than it would harm Sidney or Troy. We are all going to be slapped with whatever this amount ends up being.”
Unless or until the district is held accountable and/or a number attached, Hittle does not foresee an issue or worry, other than state entities attempting to make it a problem for those affected. Emphasizing entities had paid into a retirement system according to state-set parameters only for the latter to now place districts on the hook.
“That’s not what we’ve been sending the money off for,” said Hittle who expected rainy-day funds/reserves would make up the difference in poor and rich districts. “Collectively, as the state of Ohio, we are all in the same boat.”
A similar response was given by Cynthia Holtzapple, finance director for the City of Piqua, regarding OPERS (Ohio Public Employee Retirement System).
“Pension plans such as OPERS are required to adopt the new reporting requirements in 2014,” said Holtzapple in an email communique, however, for employers such as the city they do not have to report until the year ending Dec. 31, 2015.
“We are just beginning to explore the requirements and impacts to us,” continued Holtzapple. “We hope to know more when the pension plans include information in their 2014 financial reports in spring of 2015.”
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall