Eight years ago when I was appointed to serve on the Fire & Police Pension Association Board, I had no idea of the journey ahead of me. During this time, many milestones have occurred… I’ve helped strengthen the funding stream for benefits, instituted new accounting standards, experienced personal growth and been part of an incredible organization.
Here are a few takeaways from my time on the Board:
The economic downturn in 2008/2009 showed that the plan faced headwinds for granting future cost of living adjustments. In response, a task force was formed to address this issue. Ultimately, the task force recommended FPPA allow the members to vote on a 4% increase in their contributions. That election took place in June of 2014 and passed. Since then, as I have attended seminars across the country, many other organizations have commented that our members choice to increase their contributions was both unusual and refreshing.
When I first joined the Board, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued new rules. Applying these rules to the statewide plans and the old hire and volunteer plans was challenging. A major question was how to communicate the rule changes to local government auditors. With that in mind, we coordinated with the Colorado Society of CPAs, and after a successful rollout we now participate in their annual Governmental Conference.
The cost of delivering benefits has increased in recent years. Addressing this issue, the Board created an employer task force in 2018, on which I served as co-chair. Reviewing the history of FPPA’s plans and their funding status was critical in leading to the Board’s direction for proposed 2020 legislation. The Board is seeking legislation to increase the employer contribution slowly over several years. The goal is to equalize employer and employee contributions at 12% by January 2028.
Of course, investments are a big part of any pension plan. Prior to my time on the Board, I didn’t realize just how many components there are to investing funds, pension or otherwise. Nor did I realize what it takes to stay on top of all the moving pieces. Rest assured, the members of the board with investment expertise, as well as FPPA’s investment staff, are doing an excellent job managing our members’ assets.
Serving on the FPPA Board provided me with opportunities for personal growth and expanding my network; The public pension world is complex, challenging and exciting; I learned about both local and federal legislative issues and how they impact FPPA; I’ve even advocated with both our Colorado and Federal delegations on behalf of our members.
Along the way, I’ve met amazing people. From fellow Board members to the staff and other stakeholders, to trustees and experts across the country. I was honored to serve on the Board, and I consider the time I spent as part of FPPA to be a highlight of my career.
Pamela Feely, CPA, MBA, AF, is President of the West Metro Fire Protection District Board of Directors and a former Fire & Police Pension Association Board Member. Ms. Feely also is the co-author of A Penchant for Pensions, A Guide to the Actuarial Valuations for Public Pension Plans, released in July 2018.