Non-uniformed city retirees get cost of living pension increase

The Board of Aldermen recently approved a cost of living pension increase for non-uniformed retirees, who had not received an increase since 2012.

The increase will be $120 for people who retired between 1980 and 1989; 2% for people who retired between 1990 and 1999, 1% for people who retired between 2000 and 2009, and no increase for those who retired after 2009. 

The estimated increased cost to the pension board will be $586,000, according to city documents.

Robert Gregory, president of Milford Municipal Retirees Association, spoke at this month’s Board of Aldermen’s meeting, advising them that if they did not vote for the increase, there wouldn’t be another chance to do so for another three years.

He asked that the increase be 2% across the board, for all retirees, pointing out rising costs since 2012. But he added that if the aldermen didn’t agree to a flat 2%, he would be happy with the increase recommended by the pension board and its consulting agency, Hooker & Holcombe.

Gregory thanked the administration and previous administrations for keeping the city’s pension fund solid.

“Other communities are envious of the fiscal responsibility of Milford,” Gregory said. “When I look around at other communities and the state, having pension problems, I realize how fortunate we are to live in a city that values those who have worked hard to make Milford a better place.”

Resident Jackson Felton also spoke during the public speaking portion of Monday’s Board of Aldermen’s meeting, urging the aldermen to support an across-the-board pension increase. Felton told the aldermen that he retired from the city five years ago and hasn’t received a cost of living increase in his pension. Social Security did go up 2% this year, but that was swallowed by increases in other costs, he said.

But under the adopted plan, Felton’s pension will not increase.

The adjustment applies to about 458 retirees, according to Mayor Ben Blake.

Alderman Ray Vitale wondered why the 1980 to 1989 retirees were receiving a flat rate increase rather than a percentage similar to the other retirees. Blake said it was because 2% in some cases would be less than $100 for the year, and the pension board wanted to be sure they got at least $120 more.

“That was the board’s intention,” Blake said.

Blake said the average pension for retirees from 1980 to 1989 is $3,550, but noted that pensions “are all over the place.”

Each pension agreement is different, based on how much the employee earned and how long he or she worked for the city, and other factors.

While there was some discussion prior to the vote, Aldermen Frank Smith and Ellen Beatty urged the board to accept the recommendation of the pension board and their consulting actuary.

“A cost of living adjustment is a fairly standard practice,” Smith said, adding that there was no increase granted in 2015. He also said it is important to treat the retirees fairly.