Missouri retirement system pays about $160,000 in incentives

Monday, August 10, 2009 | 5:41 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY —Missouri's retirement system on Monday paid $159,537 of staff incentives that had been on hold because of public criticism about providing bonuses during financial losses.

The Missouri State Employees' Retirement System said its personnel policy legally requires it provide the incentives to its 57-person operational staff. The payments originally had been scheduled for June but were delayed because of concerns they would be portrayed poorly.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in April that that MOSERS operational and investment staff received $460,000 in bonuses last year as its investments lost $1.8 billion, or nearly a third of its value. The incentives were triggered because the portfolio fared better than the market over the last five years, and the operation of the retirement system met expectations.

Gov. Jay Nixon described the payments as "unconscionable," and angry lawmakers removed $300,000 from the retirement system's 2010 budget as retribution.

The money paid Monday represents a new round of incentives, based on a 12-month evaluation period that ended March 31. All employees earned incentives equal to 4 percent of their salaries for meeting goals on customer service and cost efficiencies. Some employees could receive incentives of up to 10 percent of their salaries based on other individual performance criteria, said Chris Rackers, MOSERS manager of investment policy and communication.

"These payments are in recognition of the high quality/low cost services received by our members from the MOSERS staff," executive director Gary Findlay said in a written statement that highlighted $1.8 million in cost efficiencies compared to average retirements systems.

It's unclear if MOSERS employees will receive similar incentives in the future. The board of trustees is studying whether to change the overall employee compensation plan.

The retirement system also said Monday that it has begun to post staff salary information on a searchable, online database.

The pension system provides retirement benefits, life insurance and long-term disability coverage to about 100,000 state employees, retirees and their beneficiaries.


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