Seems Hilmer resents teachers who receive pensions, letter writer says

To the editor:

It seems that Aaron Hilmer, chairman of the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors, resents teachers who receive pensions.

He sees no reason why people who work in the public sector should receive better retirement benefits than other taxpayers. I absolutely agree. I think the other taxpayers should also receive a livable retirement pension. In fact, I think anyone who works 30 years at his or her job deserves to be able to retire on a livable pension.

Mr. Hilmer gave as an example of the retirement benefit from the Public School Retirement System that of retired Mehlville Superintendent Terry Noble, which is an extreme exception to the typical retirement benefit from the retirement system. The average annual pension for retired public school teachers is around $38,000, a far cry from the $177,000 Mr. Noble receives.

Mr. Hilmer calls PSRS/PEERS a pyramid scheme. Nothing could be further from the truth. The retirement system has been self-sustaining for the last 65 years since it was established in 1946.

It is true that the 2008 stock market decline negatively affected the total equity of the system when the needed average annual return of 8 percent was not achieved. However, the investment results have rebounded since then. Last year the system realized a 13-percent return on investments and this year the system realized a very impressive 21.5-percent return.

Although the total equity has not yet regained pre-decline levels, the stability of the system is continuing to strengthen. The actuarial analysis of policy adjustments in the system anticipates a return to 100-percent pre-funding at the end of the next 30 years given average yearly returns on investments of 8 percent over that time. Therefore, the claim that continued benefits provided to retirees are unsustainable in the future is untrue. This system is no Ponzi scheme.

Mr. Hilmer’s claim that the PSRS/PEERS system is eating up swaths of local, state and federal budgets is completely unsupported by the facts. The fact is that the teachers contribute one half the contributions to the retirement system from their own salaries and the school district matches the other half from the teachers’ fund, the fund used exclusively for salaries of teachers and other certified employees. In fact, educational employees are currently contributing 14.5 percent of their salaries into the retirement fund.

It is clear that any cut in services from the federal, state or local budgets is in no way related to the pension fund.

In fact, the 60,000 teachers who continue to live in Missouri after retirement actually enhance the economy because they spend their money at grocery stores, shops and theaters and support the local, state and federal coffers with their real-estate, sales and income taxes. The dismantling of the PSRS/PEERS retirement system would actually be detrimental to the economy, not improve it.

CT Sharp

Manchester

Retired Oakville Senior High science teacher