Missouri retirement system to drop employee bonuses

Sunday, June 6, 2010 | 7:35 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — A proposed plan would allow employees who run Missouri's main government pension plan to get pay raises that would help offset having their controversial bonuses eliminated.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that this will be the last month for bonuses for most employees at the Missouri State Employees Retirement System.

The financial incentives came under fire after nearly $300,000 in bonuses were paid out last year despite a $1.8 billion loss in its portfolio in 2008. The bonuses were the result of the system beating a preset benchmark that considers five years of investment returns.

A compensation committee made up of retirement system board members voted 3-1 Friday to recommend having staffers receive raises worth 90 percent of their average bonuses the last three years.

The full 11-member Board of Trustees will consider the plan later this month. If approved, the changes would take effect when the new fiscal year starts July 1.

Gary Findlay, MOSERS executive director, said the net effect for employees isn't a raise.

"Actually, they're getting a cut" since only 90 percent of their bonuses would be rolled into base pay, he said.

One reason given by those voting "yes" was that the pay boost would help maintain staff morale.

The lone "no" vote came from Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau. He said he prefers to return to the bonus system and add a requirement that the board vote on the bonuses rather than making them automatic when certain goals are met.

Crowell said the vote would prevent MOSERS from giving out bonuses in years when the system's investments lost money.

Friday's recommendation would affect about 70 employees — everyone except Findlay and Chief Investment Officer Rick Dahl. They can still receive bonuses because their pay is set by contract.



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