The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


February 11, 2013

Readers' Forum 2-11 | Facts, figures on state employees’ pensions

— The media have reported much about the  state pension funding deficit and large retirement pensions being paid to retirees.

According to an article in The Tribune-Democrat on Feb. 7, 658 retired members of the State Employee Retirement System and Public Shool Employee Retirement System receive a six-figure pension. That number represents .005 percent of the total retiree population.

As a retired state employee, I received the SERS snapshot of current employees and retirees in 2012. Please note the average retirement payment is $24,448 per year.

Total members, 228,552; receiving benefits, 115,342; active members paying into system, 107,021; average pension payments per year, $24,448; total fund assets in billions as of Dec. 31, 2011, $24.7.

Funding sources: Employees: 15.8 percent, $3.3 billion; employer: 9.5 percent, $2 billion; investing earnings, $15.4 billion.

Retirement benefits as of Dec. 31, 2011, paid to retirees by county (in millions):

Cambria, $52.9; Somerset, $23.3; Bedford, $13.1; Blair, $37.8; Clearfield, $25.2; Indiana, $46.4; and Centre, $129.7.

State employees contribute to our economy while they are working and continue to contribute after retirement. Taking into account the 500 SCI-Cresson employees who will relocate or lose their jobs, an additional future retirement income of $1.2 million a year could be removed from our local economy.

Additionally, the governor is cleverly silent about the future retirement benefits paid to senators and representatives. Their benefits payout formula is 50 percent more, after they awarded themselves the increase several year ago. Essentially, they will receive their current salaries ($78,000-plus), benefits and special perks for the remainder of their lives.

Gary Schetrompf


Hopefully, others can learn from mistakes

Things I learned too late: 

* If you pay cash for a new car, be sure to get total coverage, or gap insurance.

* Homeowners insurance does not cover bird or animal damage, including a broken window. I found this out for $400.

* Most autos have a black box (except European cars), which tells speed, braking, seat belt usage and if air bags were deployed.

* If you rent, be sure to take out a renters policy; otherwise you could be stuck by an accident, etc.

* All autos sold after 2012 have stability control.

* Carry a can of Fix-a-Flat in case you get a flat tire. It is liquid rubber and will get you home. 

* Carry mace in case of emergency.

* Make copies of your driver’s license, Social Security card and insurance cards. One of my military officers lost his wallet, and it took him more than a year to get replacements, plus additional $12 to have his picture taken at the drivers center in Richland Township.

* If your car is less than five years old, your key has a chip in it (ignition), and when the chip goes bad – no advance notice – it will unlock your door, but the engine will not start. Ninety percent of the people I talk to are not aware. Be sure to have a back-up key in your car.

Bob Shoup


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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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