A Message from Thomas R. Sheehan, Chairman, GRS Board of Trustees
Dear GRS Members and Retirees:
The General Retirement System portfolio now stands at approximately $1.85 Billion dollars as of June 30, 2016 and continues to perform well in comparison to other public pension plans around the country. The breakdown of the funds in the Plan are as follows:
- GRS “Legacy” Plan - Component II (Closed for all retirees and active employees as of June 30, 2014)
- GRS “Hybrid” Plan – Component I (Opened for active employees as of July 1, 2014)
- GRS Legacy and Hybrid Annuity Accounts
- Income Stabilization Funds
Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company, the System’s actuary, has determined Component II funded status at June 30, 2014 was 53.01%. The funded status of Component II at June 30, 2015 was 72.03% (GASB/67). The increase was a result of incorporating the 4.5% pension reductions, eliminating future Cost of Living increases, the “annuity savings fund clawback”, and reducing the assumed rate of return of the fund from 7.9% to 6.75%.
Component I, which is the new Hybrid Plan, had a funded status of 81.74 % as of June 30, 2015.
Hopefully, the financial markets will continue upward and our portfolio will produce the returns needed to meet our 6.75% assumed rate of return.
The Retirement System Investment Committee and the Board of Trustees continue to review and will decide on manager selection for the 5% commitment to hedge fund investments which is a part of the overall asset allocation plan. The Committee and Board are working with the general investment consultant, New England Pension Consultants, to select two hedge fund firms that will bring an enhanced strategy and compliment each others style of investing. The final selection will be made toward the end of this year. The Committee and Board are likewise reviewing the current large and small cap domestic equity managers’ performance, style drift, and continuing capabilities to determine whether changes will need to be made to those current managers.
On July 25, 2016, the General Retirement System’s investment in the Rivers Casino, located in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, was sold to the private equity firm Walton Street Capital LLC. The original commitment to this venture was made in 2006/07 and went through a debt restructuring in 2008. The net proceeds from the sale totaled approximately $65.0 million dollars; produced a positive return on the investment; and, will be used to pay future retiree pensions.
The Grand Bargain, which was a part of the Bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment, contained three sources of funds to be paid into the Retirement Systems. The State of Michigan committed to pay $350 Million; the DIA committed $100 Million, and several local and national Foundations committed to pay $386 Million. The General Retirement System received $96.0 Million dollars in February, 2015 from the State of Michigan which represented the present value of their obligation under the Bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment. In June, 2016, the General Retirement System received $32,886.000 from the DIA which represented the present value of their $100 Million dollar obligation under the Plan of Adjustment. The remaining commitments from the various Foundations will continue to be paid as defined in the Plan of Adjustment.
In addition to the DIA receipt, the General Retirement System received over $70 Million dollars from the City and various Departments in June, 2016 that was required under the Plan of Adjustment.
A special primary election was conducted in June, 2016 to fill the unexpired active employee trustee terms ending June 30, 2017 and June 30, 2020. Five candidates filed petitions to run for the positions. Gail Oxedine was elected as pension trustee for the term ending June 30, 2017 and Olga Johnson was elected as pension trustee for the term ending June 30, 2020. Congratulations to both candidates.
General Retirement System Updated Website
The website for the General Retirement System (www.rscd.org) has been updated to provide more information and assistance for active and retired members. The website will contain names and titles of pension administration and staff by department, forms, current news, a “frequently asked question” informational page, links to pertinent websites, and a contact page for members to submit questions or comments. I encourage members to visit the revised website.
If you have a question dealing with any Board activity, investment policy, or pension/benefit matter, you are encouraged to visit the DRCEA website (www.drcea.org) and submit your inquiry by E-mail. We will follow-up with an answer to you by telephone or E-mail. If you do not have E-mail access, you may call our Voice-mail number (313) 927-0491. Often the DRCEA member does not know who to contact to answer a question or take care of a pension/benefit problem. You are encouraged to use our resources - we are here to help you!