Increased assets help towns save money on pensions
Recent economic growth and a strong stock market have meant higher returns on municipal pension investments for New Milford.
This has translated into savings at a time when elected officials are trying to tighten their fiscal belts.
New Milford has seen its assets grow from about $28 million in 2010 to about $60 million in 2018, saving the town roughly $500,000 in the most recent year.
“The town’s contribution in the past several years has gone down because of asset growth,” said Tom Pilla, chairman of New Milford’s pension committee. “This alleviated a lot of pressure on the taxpayer.”
He attributed the growth to several factors, including the addition of a cap on the size of pensions in union contracts and a switch in the company that manages the fund — from John Hancock to Principal Financial Group and Angel Pension. The latter change meant a different investment strategy, to more diversified accounts.
The committee decided to change its practices when it realized more employees were joining the plan and salaries were increasing, said Pilla, who has served on the committee for 20 years.
New Milford lowered its rate from 8 percent to 7.5 percent. Pilla hopes to get that figure to 5.5 percent, which he said is closer to the actual figure and helps for long-term planning.
“It wasn’t reality,” he said, of the 8 percent.