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Kahn, Smith, & Collins
Local 1563's Attorneys
AA Co Retired FireFighters Association

The Anne Arundel County Retired Fire Fighters Association was founded March 30, 2000.  Membership is open to all Retired Members of the AA County Career Fire Service.  In addition we have a membership for the surviving spouse of any retired member of the department.  Current vested employees of the department (over 20 years service) may join as associated members (without voting rights). 

 

The organization is primarily a social group (as per our charter).  However we do keep our members informed of various items of interest concerning but not limited to health care, pension issues etc. 

 

A member of our group was appointed by former Fire Chief Fran Phelps to the Cancer Study Committee.  Attempts are made to keep our members up-dated on the higher than usual cancer rate in our department.  We have also been active in attempting to get state income tax relief for Retired Public Safety employees living in Maryland.

 

Several Reunions are held each year including a Reunion held late January in Florida.  We currently have over 20 members living in the “Sunshine State”.  Many of our members from other area also attend this 3-day event.

 

We have received tremendous support from both Local 1563 of the IAFF and the Fire Department Administration.  One major project is a revolving display located in the hallway of Fire Department HQs.  It shows history of the department and spot lights the career of various retirees.


Oct 26, 2017
Brothers and Sisters: The following is the slide presentation for County's Retirement Seminar as of October 2017.. If you are contemplating retirement or would like to begin planning, this should be helpful. The budget information is really important so you can understand your finances when you retire.
Download: 2017 Public Safety Retirement Seminar.pdf

May 03, 2016
PREPARING FOR RETIREMENT Below are 2 links that have information on retirement, helpful info for those near retirement, recently retired or even those retired for awhile. NOTE:  You may have to copy and paste the 1st link into your web browser, it appears it is not loading when you click on it. http://www.firehouse.
Feb 24, 2012

Anne Arundel Co. Retirement and Pension System

Fire Plan Trustees report – 3rd Quarter, 2018

Brothers and Sisters,

I want to apologize for the lateness of this report. There were some glitches with retrieving the data from our custodian Bank, State Street, which have been addressed. Going forward, the data should be received on time.

The quarter was very positive after a very volatile period from January 1 through June 30. The Domestic Equity assets returned 6.5% which bolstered the performance of the other sectors. The total Equity return was 3.5%, accounting for the underperformance of International and Emerging Market assets.

The Fixed Income return was stable with .7% return for the quarter. The Core assets returned .3% and the Non-core assets returning 1%. The steady return of our Bonds, both core and Non-Core and our Bank Loan portfolio keeps us moving forward with little risk.

Our Global Asset fund returned .3% and out Real Estate manager, Clarion,  provided a 4.8% return. Our Private Equity portfolio now has returned 8.63% since inception. These are long term investment funds with an expected term of 10-12 years.

We had three retirements for the quarter, one normal, one disability and one DROP. The net assets in the Fire Plan increased from $ 538.8 M on June 30th to    $ 546.2 M at the end of September. The assets are reported after retirement payments of  $ 23.9 M and administrative expenses, a very productive quarter for the Plan!

This quarter has been extremely volatile so far and we will be watching our managers very closely.

          If there are any questions, I can be reached at (443) 324-8708 or by email at leroy1563@gmail.com.

Fraternally,

LeRoy Wilkison

Fire Plan Trustee

____________________________________________________________________________

Anne Arundel Co. Retirement and Pension System

Fire Plan Trustees report – 2nd Quarter, 2018

Brothers and Sisters,

          This has been a very volatile period for investing.  The quarterly results  showed no appreciable returns with the exception of our Private Equity portfolio which had an IRR of 4.27%. Almost all asset classes were negative for the quarter. The total plan performance detail was -0.1% for the quarter. Given the poor 1st quarter performance the YTD return is only 0.1%. Last years good performance gave a yearly (12 m0nths) aggregate return of 8.0%. We do see signs of improvement going forward.

          Because the performance was negligible, the Plan assets for the quarter dipped to $ 538.8M, down 5.1% after all DROP and benefit payments. There were five DROP retirements, one normal and one service connected disability retirement.

          As long term investors we continue to monitor all of our asset managers but we will not chase returns. Rather, we will continue our plan objectives of diversity and focus on the long term.

          If there are any questions, I can be reached at (443) 324-8708 or by email at leroy1563@gmail.com.

Fraternally,

LeRoy Wilkison

Fire Plan Trustee

_____________________

Anne Arundel Co. Retirement and Pension System

Fire Plan Trustees report – 1st Quarter 2018

Brothers and Sisters,

          We began the year with excellent results, continuing the trend from 2017. Then February happened. The volatility for February and March gave back all the gains that were recorded in the beginning of the Quarter. A slight uptick at the end of March salvaged some of the losses.

          The funds overall performance for the Quarter was 0.1%. Most managers were ahead of their benchmarks but Stocks ( - 0.3%) and Bonds ( - 0.1%) were mostly negative for the Quarter. Our investments in Emerging Market Stocks ( + 2.2%)  and Bonds ( + 2.4%), our Non-core Fixed Income assets ( + 0.9%), our Bridgewater Global Composite ( + 0.2%) and our Real Estate investments ( + 2.3%)  mitigated the losses for the domestic portfolio. Our Private Equity portfolio also contributed with a positive return of 2.6% versus the Index of 1.8%.

Our portfolio still ranked in the top quartile in comparison to our peers. We have a well funded plan and the diversity of the portfolio has mitigated significant losses.

          For the first time in many months the Fire Plan assets were less than the previous Quarter. The ending value was $ 543.7M down from $ 546.7M at the beginning of the year. The change was attributed to investment losses and expenses.

          In the upcoming Quarter we will review our Actuarial Valuation of the Plan assets and the County’s required contribution for the FY19 budget.

Fraternally,

LeRoy Wilkison

Fire Plan Trustee

________________________________________________________________

Anne Arundel Co. Retirement and Pension System

Fire Plan Trustees report – December 31, 2017

Brothers and Sisters,

          This report will present both the 4th quarter and the year end results for our Plan. This has been a very good year for the investments in the System. We were able to attain good returns while protecting the plan through due diligence and diversification.

          The composite of all Equity investments performed well for these periods. The quarterly returns were 3.9% while the year ended with a return of 16%. We attained a ranking in the 19th percentile compared to our peers. For the year our domestic portfolio returned 20.7% and 6% for the quarter. Exceeding expectations were our International Equity investments at 27.4% and our Emerging market portfolio at 33.8%.

          Our fixed Income also performed well. While many think the bonds will not perform when the equities are strong, we still saw good performance. Our total fixed income return was .7% for the quarter and a 6% yearly return. Our core bonds returned .7 % for the quarter and 4.7% for the year. The different sectors of our Non-Core investments, which included Global Bonds, Bank Loans, High Yield and Emerging Market components returned .7% for the quarter and 6.9 return on an annualized basis.

          Our Global Asset allocation combined with our Real Estate investments 3.5% for the month and 8.4% for the year.

Twelve years ago, we established a Private Equity portfolio to bolster our ability to meet our pension payments. These investments create a portfolio that generally lasts for 10-12 years and also returns monies back to the plan during the investment period. Since inception and reported as of September 2017, the investments performance, net of fees, is 8.27%, exceeding the S&P 500 performance of 7.4% for the same period.

The Fire Plan funding has increased nicely over the last year. After all benefit payments, DROP distributions and administrative expenses the plans assets are $ 546,695,848, an increase of $ 62,457,774 from December 31, 2016.

This has been an exceptional plan year We will be visiting the projections for next years performance shortly and possibly make some adjustments to our asset allocations. It has been a very good year, but we will remain true to our philosophy as long term investors of trying to attain optimum returns while being cognizant of the risk/reward necessary for a well maintained portfolio.

If there are any questions, I can be reached at (443) 324-8708 or by email at leroy1563@gmail.com.

Fraternally,

LeRoy Wilkison

Fire Plan Trustee.

_____________________________________________________________

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 3rd Quarter 2017

Brothers and Sisters:

            The 3rd quarter of this year saw strong growth and excellent return on investments. Equities lead the charge with Emerging markets recording the best performance at 7.9% followed by International stocks,  U S Large Cap equities (S & P 500) as well as U S Small Cap stocks (Russell 2500). For the YTD, all equities have a return of 17.9%.

            The Bond markets continues to provide solid returns for the year as well. Core bonds (U S) have returned 4% YTD and Non Core assets including High Yield, Bank loans and Emerging Market portfolios saw a YTD return of 6.2%  Global bonds also continue to be solid investments at 4.4% return YTD.

            The assets held in Pension Trust at the end of the quarter were valued at $ 1.840 B. The Fire Plan total is now at $ 537 M after all benefits have been paid and administrative expenses deducted. This a  $ 15 M increase from the reported total at the end of June.

            Our assets have grown due to the excellent market returns. The portfolio is also well diversified to help protect against volatility in the markets. We have seen good and bad years but the Trust is strong today because of the efforts of the entire Board. The County should also be recognized for their strong support of the Trust as well. They have never underfunded their required contrubution. If you read about Plans that are in trouble, the over riding factor is the reduction or elimination of the sponsors obligation.

            I am proud to tell you I have passed my 20th Anniversary on the Board of Trustees in August. Myself and Mr. Hammond are the two original Trustees. It is a privilege to represent you and I thank you for your continued support!

            As always, any questions, please give me a call (443) 324-8708 or email, leroy1563@gmail.com.

LeRoy Wilkison   

Fire Plan Trustee

*******************************************************************

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System Board of Trustees – 2nd Quarter 2017

Brothers and Sisters:

            The second quarter of this year showed  slower return growth due primarily to a volatile June. Although the markets have been trending up since the election, there will still be rough patches  throughout the year.

            The total portfolio return for the quarter was 2.6%.  YTD return is now 7.6% and the one year number is 12.7% ranking us 27th among our peers. Although the performance was relatively flat, it was bolstered by strong returns in International Equity of 6.3%. The total value of pension assets for the System is $ 1.789 B

            The Fire Plan assets increased  by approximately $ 1.9 M from the previous quarter to a total of $ 512 M including DROP distributions to six retirees, benefit payments and expenses. The total retirements for the fiscal year in addition to twenty-six DROP's were two normal, two non-service connected and three service connected disabilities. COLA increases for July were 1.6%.

            Our auditors reported on the health of the plan and the administrative activity. They reported no material weaknesses and that the System was well managed. It has been several years now since there were any audit issues, a credit to our Benefits staff.

            The assets are diversified and all asset classes were within the policy targets assuring stability with our investments. We have our managers present once a year to the Board of Trustees on their administrative activity and performance. The Investment committee meets quarterly to review our manager’s performance with our adviser, NEPC. They have been with us since 1990 and have really done a yeoman’s job of helping us be successful.

            As always, any questions, please give me a call (443-324-8708) or email, leroy1563@gmail.com.

LeRoy Wilkison  

Fire Plan Trustee

____________________________________________________________

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 1st Quarter 2017

Brothers and Sisters:

The first quarter of this year showed a positive return in all asset classes. Both stocks and bonds performed well. The Pension Sytem had a 4.8% return for the quarter and the one year return was 11.3%. The market value of the System increased to $ 1,751, 358, 748, a $ 72 M increase from last report of 12/31/16.

The Fire Plan benefited as well from the excellent returns. After all benefit payments and administrative expenses,  the plan assets increased by $ 19 M to $ 503,301,205. Benefit payments for the quarter increased to $ 9,171,203, up from the last quarter of 2016 due to five DROP retirements.

The Actuary reported on the Fire Plan for FY 2017 which was calendar year 2016. The funded ratio of the Plan was 87.4 %, down slightly from the previous year of  87.6 %. We had 792 active participants, 45 in DROP and 591 retirees.  We had 26 retirements from DROP in 2016 which accounted for higher then normal benefit payments. The County's recommended contribution for FY 2018 increased slightly to  $ 15,001,017 which is 29.8 % of payroll and was approved by the Boad of Trustees at the March meeting. A very positive report on a well funded and healthy Pension Plan!

Some have inquired on the delay in providing this report. I do not received the finalized returns and the Statement of Plan assets until the May Board of Trustees meeting, thus the delay in reporting to you. Thank you for your patience.

As always, any questions, please give me a call (443-324-8708) or email, leroy1563@aol.com.

LeRoy Wilkison   

Fire Plan Trustee

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 4th  Quarter 2016

Good morning Brothers and Sisters:

            The past year has shown a great deal of volatility in the markets. I am pleased to report that because of our diligence and diversification the pension fund ended the year on a very positive note. The total return for the year was 7.6% led by our investments in Emerging markets followed by US Equities, non Core Fixed Income, Global Asset allocation and our Fixed Income portfolio.

            The 12/31 allocation report showed the total assets of the Pension Fund for 2016 are $ 1,674, 515,180. The assets for our Fire plan ended the year at $ 484,238,101 which is # 17.5 M greater then 12/31/2015. While this amount appears to be les then the 7.6% ereturn for the yer, it includes COLA increases, new retirements and some pretty hefty DROP distributions. So with all of these factors and some administrative costs, we still added to the fund.

            The actuary reported that our plan is well funded and the funded ratio also increased last year. The auditor reported no problems with reporting of assets or any administative issues. The County;s contribution continues to be very stable and they have funded the required contribution each year as requested. Kudos to them!

            Our overight and diversification has provided a very stable fund that even with increasing retirements still continues to grow. We monitor our money managers closely and use best rpractice in developing our asset allocation and rebalancing the portfolio based on expected trends. We have instituted a Private Equity portfolio to address increasing retirements and added new investment classes to increase the value of the assets while keeping an eye on the risk profile of each investment.

            In August of 2017 the Board of Trustees celebrates its 20th Anniversary. I have been honored to be your Trustee for the entire time. Protecting your retirement is paramout and the Board takes this task extremely seriously.Thank you for your support!

As always, if you have any questions, please give me a call (443-324-8708) or email, leroy1563@aol.com.

LeRoy Wilkison, Fire Plan Trustee

           

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 2nd Quarter 2016

Brothers and Sisters:

The second quarter of this year was pretty uneventful until the Brexit vote was announced in late June. That event saw a significant loss on Friday followed by a good rebound the next trading day.

Our assets returned 1.3% for the quarter bringing our YTD return to 2.7%. Our return was bolstered by our bond portfolio, both domestic and global assets in emerging markets.

The Fire Plan remained stable and was up slightly. After all DROP payments, retirements and expenses were paid we still increased the assets by $ 2.86 M for a total of assets held in trust for pension benefits of $ 470,697,359.

The Actuarial report for the Fire Plan was received and showed another increase in the Funding Percentage of the Plan to 87.6% as of 1/1/2016 , up from 86.4% in January of 2015. The County’s contribution for the year actually was less for FY2017. This year’s contributions are 29.1% of covered payroll, down from 30.6% in FY 2016.

The fund benefits from diversification and close attention to each money manager.  As DROP benefits are paid and new retirements come on board, our history of stability continues now and into the future.

As always, any questions, please give me a call (443-324-8708) or email, leroy1563@aol.com.

LeRoy Wilkison, Fire Plan Trustee

__________________________________________________________

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 1st Quarter 2016

Brothers and Sisters:

After a poor 2015 there appears to be improving market conditions for this year. The first quarter returns were positive for the first time in over a year.  The system had an overall return of 1.3%.  While US Equities continue to struggle we had positive returns in Emerging Market Equity (8.9%), Fixed Income (2.9%), Emerging Market Fixed Income (7.3%) and our Real Estate portfolio (3.0%).

The outlook going forward is for a positive return for the year bolstered by Emerging Market activity in both Equities and Fixed Income. Southeastern Asset Management was performing poorly and we placed them on a watch. In the 1st quarter they surpassed all other US equities with a 6.6% return.  The previously paragraph showed our positive Emerging Market returns, which have lagged for 18 months. Our Core Fixed Income continues their steady performance.

Being long term investors we seek to have steady performance which means different asset classes will do well while others will lag during any given quarter. Having a well diversified portfolio accomplished this goal. We are reviewing our asset allocation with New England Pension Consultants and we will rebalance out portfolio after looking at expected returns going forward.  We will also be looking at an additional asset class with Bank Loans, which is now back in favor, as well as reviewing our Private Equity assets to determine what new investment we should be looking at.

The second quarter,  in addition to rebalancing, we will be reviewing the actuarial reports of the four plans which will include the County’s contribution for the upcoming budget year and the report of our auditor regarding the administration of the System.

The assets of the FIRE Plan remained steady for the 1st Quarter.  After benefit payments and expenses the assets are $ 467, 831,621.  This is an increase of approximately $ 1.07 M. from year end 2015. There were significant DROP retirements which accounted for the slight increase for the quarter.

As always, any questions, please give me a call (443-324-8708) or email, leroy1563@aol.com.

LeRoy Wilkison   

Fire Plan Trustee      

        _____________________________________________________________   

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 4th Quarter 2015

Brothers and Sisters:

            This is the final report for the 2015 “Plan Year”. As everyone who has an investment portfolio has seen, last year was one of zero to minimal growth.  The pension plan had slightly negative returns for the year in all asset classes except for our Real Estate and Private Equity investments.

            The yearly returns for the asset classes are as follows;

                        Total plan return – (1.6%)

                        Domestic Equity – (0.5%)

                        International Equity – (0.8%)

                        Emerging Market Equity ( 18.8%)

                        Core Fixed Income – 0.8%

                        Absolute Return Fixed Income – (0.3%)

                        HY Fixed Income – (1.2%)

                        Emerging Market Fixed Income – (11.1%)

                        Global Asset Allocation – (4.1%)

                        Real Estate – +14.8%Private Equity - +8-1%                                                                         

Private Equity - + 8.1%*

                        * 3rd quarter return, this category lags 1 qtr. in reporting.

            Our Private Equity portfolio was established 10 years ago to bolster our cash position for increased benefit payments. These are long term investments with return expectations of 12-20% over the life of the funds.  Many of these return cash even before we have fully funded our commitments. We continue to add to our portfolio each year.

Our Real Estate manager also returns cash every month to support benefit payments and continues to grow with great success.

            So what happened? The foreign markets were extremely volatile which lead to the volatility in the domestic markets. The Federal Reserve raised the lending rate.  Although the returns were not as expected, the diversity of the portfolio maintained our assets with little to no growth. Diversity also protect from losses such as those as experienced in 2007-2008.

            We have closely monitored the markets and brought in managers whose returns were poor during the year to explain what happened. Their explanations were reasonable but we will continue to monitor their returns.

We are now reviewing return expectation for 2016 and will rebalance our assets based upon that report. When you have a bump in the road, you stick to what has worked and don’t make changes trying to chase returns. Retirees want long term protection of their retirement funds and this approach is what keeps the plan solvent.

            The System assets as of December 31, 2015 were $ 1,658,660 397.  Our Fire Plan has net assets for pension payments of $ 466.759,171 at year end.  While we added $ 10M in investment income and contributions, plan expenses and pension payments totaled nearly $ 32M. We expect additional expenses this year for DROP payments due at retirement.

           

As always, any questions, please give me a call (443-324-8708) or email, leroy1563@aol.com.

LeRoy Wilkison   

Fire Plan Trustee

______________________________________________________

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 3rd Quarter 2015

Brothers and Sisters:

The third quarter of 2015 was the most volatile quarter this year.  All asset classes were negative with the exception of our core fixed income portfolio which returned just 0.6%. The total equity portfolio was down -10.6% with Emerging market investments leading with -17.9% for the quarter.  With the volatility over the last 6 months our total return for the period is -3.2% for the Systems assets.

Some comments by our consultant below further shows the difficulty in the markets for the quarter.

An allocation to emerging markets undermined year-to-date performance for the period ending September 30. Emerging markets equity manager Dimensional reported year-to-date returns of -17.9 percent versus the benchmark’s -15.5 percent. In emerging market debt, PIMCO showed a negative performance of -10.9 percent year to date. The large gap between PIMCO’s numbers and the market, which was flat at 0 percent year to date.

Southeastern’s performance also contributed to negative returns for the month. The domestic equity manager had year-to-date numbers of -19.2 percent. Southeastern also opened up a 10 percentage point gap compared to the benchmark’s performance of -9 percent year to date. A large cash holding and a lot of energy stocks have hurt Southeastern’s concentrated portfolio.

These returns led to the county’s composite year-to-date return of -4.1 percent. Even so, all the equity managers except Dimensional are ahead of their benchmarks since inception.

Returning to fixed income, Mr. Humphreys said all the other managers were either flat or up. PIMCO, on the other hand, continues to be a concern. The team handling the county’s portfolio seems insulated from PIMCO’s organizational turmoil, but given the performance, NEPC will continue to keep a close eye on returns. 

Also in fixed income, Bridgewater’s all-weather product had a performance of -6.6 percent year to date while the Pure Alpha and the Pure Alpha Major Markets II portfolios returned 7.6 percent and 10.5 percent respectively year to date.

The assets of the Fire Plan were negatively affected as was the entire System. The net totals of assets in the plan for the quarter ending 9/30 were $ 459 M versus the end of the second quarter which was $ 497 M for a decline of $ 38 M. The total System assets were down $ 85 M for the same period. It should be noted however that part of that was a large increase in benefit payments for the quarter from $ 8.9 M to $ 24.2 M, due to DROP retirements.

So what’s next? Projections are for a rebound during the 4th quarter but that may only return the monies that were lost in the preceding periods.  Hard to imagine we will make our assumption of 7.5%. This will mean an increase in the County’s contribution next fiscal year that may be significant. 

We continue to diversify our portfolio to moderate losses such as we have experienced this quarter. Our Private Equity portfolio returned 6.2% for the quarter which helps to mitigate some of the losses on a market value of $ 900 M. We are in the process of reviewing managers to add $ 40 M to our asset allocation for Private Equity for calendar year 2015.

While this year has not been good for our pension plans, they are still well funded and will provide benefits for all retirees and active participants moving forward.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year!

LeRoy Wilkison

Fire Plan Trustee

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 2nd Quarter 2015

Brothers and Sisters:

VOLITILITY, that’s the theme of this report. This quarter has seen the stock market picture look like a roller coaster out of control. The ups and downs were frequent and no period showed stability at all. So what’s does mean? Diversity is the solution to the volatile markets we have seen recently.  The U S stock market has been propped up by investments in International Equity, Emerging Market Equity, High Yield fixed income, Opportunistic fund assets and Real Estate in our portfolio.

The total return for the plan this quarter is -0.4 % & YTD IS 2.8 %.  While this is not a great result it compared very favorable with the Public Funds Universe as we were 16th compared to our peers.  That top quartile performance shows we are getting good performance without having excessive risks!

U S stocks performed poorly this quarter at -0.3 %. With the diversification in other equity assets the total stock return was 0.8 %.  U S fixed income was down   -1.4%. and propped up by High Yield and Emerging Market fixed income for a quarterly return total of -0.7%.

The high mark for the year is our Private Equity portfolio. These assets are invested in funds with a 10-12 year horizon and are expected to exceed S&P performance during that period. Because of the difficult requirements the reporting lags by a quarter.  For the first quarter our return (IRR) was 8.29%.   We have funded $ 118 M to date and have received $ 61 M since inception in 2006.  These funds continue to increase in value and we will be looking to commit an addition $ 40 M to them in 2015. Again, well diversified to provide solid performance.

The Fire Plan has still increased since January 1 by $ 5.78 M. This is pretty respectable given the poor performance and also the fact that we have had 39 DROP retirements this year. The DROP retirement projections call for four per month for the next year. The Plan assets now stand at $ 494,051,457. The total System is now valued at $ 1,686,995,073.

If you have any questions or comments you can contact me at leroy1563@aol.com or 443-324-8708.

Fraternally,

LeRoy Wilkison                                                                                                                

Fire Plan Trustee

____________________________________

           

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 1st Quarter 2015

Brothers and Sisters:

The 1st quarter of 2015 showed modest returns in a pretty volatile period. The System recorded a 2.8 % increase which ranked in the 10th percentile of all public plans.

US Equities returned 3.1%, International Equities scored 4.5 % while Emerging markets lagged the index at -0.2 %.Our Core fixed income returned 1.7% while our Absolute Return investment rose 1.6%. High Yield bonds 2.5% for the quarter. Emerging markets Fixed Income lagged as did the equities at -1.3%. There are signs that the emerging markets are rebounding and we expect increasing returns next quarter.

Our Global Asset allocation increased 6.8% with Bridgewater, a combined increase of all three of their funds. Opportunistic composite rose 0.2% and our Real Estate portfolio showed n increase of 3.3%

The Retirement Systems assets had a net increase of $ 59.2 M bringing the total value of the fund to $ 1,696,945,958. The Fire Plan had a net increase of $ 9.3 M after all expenses and benefit payments were made. The Fire Plan total now stands at $ 497,576,212.  This includes DROP distributions.

As always, if you have any question I can be contacted at 443-324-8708 or leroy1563@aol.com.

LeRoy Wilkison

____________________________

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 4th Quarter 2014

Brothers and Sisters:

                This is the year end report on the Pension System. 2014 was the most volatile in the past five years. The fluctuations in the market showed the importance of diversification.  The strong equity returns will likely be suppressed going forward.  Gains in the Equity market were offset with lower returns in the Fixed Income assets and the negative performance in most foreign markets.

            The Pension System finished the year with $ 1,609,068,487 in assets held in trust for pension benefits. This represents an increase of $ 124,781,167 for the year. This is the net increase for the fund after all administrative fees and expenses were paid.

            The Fire Plan finished the year with $ 488,267,055 in asset held in trust for pension benefits. This is an increase of $12,181,685 for the year. This may seem like a smaller amount then the general trust but this also includes benefit payments and DROP distributions. The Fire Plan is now the second largest Plan in the Retirement System.

            Employer contributions for the year were $ 15,893,986 and employee contributions were $ 2,755,952.  Investment gains were $ 22,687,926, net of expenses for total additions to the fund of $41,427,864.

            Benefits payments for the year, including pensions and DROP, were               $ 29,246,170 thus the net increase to the plan of $ 12,181,685.  The pension benefits, however, now exceed the employer/employee contributions which normally would raise some red flags. However, the basic reason is the DROP distributions.

While our members enjoy the DROP, some things needed to be done to compensate for this. Looking forward approximately 10 years ago, we recognized this phenomenon and with the advice of our Investment Advisors, New England Pension Consultants, we began development of a Private Equity portfolio. This is a long term investment into funds that seek additional returns over a time period of 10-12 years. The projected returns for these investments are normally 2-4% higher than the S&P 500. We agree to fund a certain amount over time and as investments are made we fund our commitments.

We have committed $ 205,000,000 to this portfolio and funded                      $ 105,755,060 to date. Of that amount we have already received distributions of $ 52,255,642.

The results as of the end of September showed an IRR (internal rate of return) of 9.79% for the year. The reporting lags by a quarter because of the nature of the investments and having multiple funds to report. This is one reason why we still had a net increase into the Fire Plan.

My trustees’ position is for a three year term and expires in May 2015. I am currently the longest standing employee representative on the Board of Trustees sitting since its inception in 1997. I will again be running for the position and appreciate your support.

As always, if there are any questions, please give me a call at 443-324-8708 or e-mail, leroy1563@aol.com.

Fraternally,

LeRoy Wilkison

Fire Plan Trustee

             

           

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 3rd Quarter 2014

Brothers and Sisters:

            The third quarter of 2014 was a very volatile time in the investment arena. All asset classes were negative while only real estate (+3.6%) and special opportunities (+1.3%) showed small gains. The net loss in total for the quarter was -1.9%. Diversification proved to be beneficial in mitigating the losses.

The value of the total Retirement System as of 9/30/2014 was $ 1.656 B versus $ 1.698 B as of June 30, 2104, a net loss of approximately $ 42 M.

The Fire Plan also was lower in value due to the volatility.  The value for our plan as of 9/30/2014 was $ 490 M versus the June 30 value of $ 503 M. for a loss of approximately of $ 13 M.  Since January 1, 2014, the Fire Plan has increased in value, after all benefit and expenses were paid, by $ 14 M. So, although we have had a bad quarter, our Plan is still rock solid and has sufficient monies to pay benefits well into the future.

Now for some good news, our long term actuarial return since inception is 8.1%.  All of our investment managers, with one exception (Lazard International Equity) have exceeded their benchmark since exception. Lazard was just hired in August of 2013 so give the quarterly performance and the lag in investing the monies the performance is slightly under reported.

Our Private Equity portfolio continues to be a bright spot of the portfolio. These investments are in funds that have a life cycle of 10-12 years. Since inception in October of 2005 the investments have returned 9.1% as of 6/30/2014. We have invested $ 101M since inception and have received a return of $ 46 M to date. The expected return for this asset class over the duration of the funds is expected to exceed 12-14%.

The expectation going forward for the rest of the year is good. The brief look at October and the market’s performance should prove to be positive for the rest of the year.

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year!

As always please send any questions my way via e-mail, leroy1563@aol.com or by cell 443-324-8708

Fraternally

LeRoy Wilkison

Fire Plan Trustee

           

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 2nd Quarter 2014

Brothers and Sisters:

I am pleased to report that the pension system has experienced another positive return for this period. We remain highly diversified and within the ranges for every class in our asset allocation profile.

The total return for the portfolio this quarter was 4.2%. Our Year to Date returns are 6.3% and for the last year the return is 17.3% as of 6/30/2014. All three return profiles placed the System in the top quartile of the Public Funds Universe.

The quarterly returns were 4.9% for domestic equity, 2.9% for our International equity portfolio and 7.6% for our Emerging Market investments.

Our fixed income portfolio returned 2.9% for this period with Core Bonds returning 2.4%, High Yield funds at 2.1% and Emerging Market Debt leading this asset class at 5.2%.

Our Global Asset Allocation led by Bridgewater returned 6.3% versus a benchmark of 3.7%. Opportunistic opportunities returned 3.2% and our real estate assets increased by 2.7%. 

Our Private Equity investments, which lag in reporting by a quarter, had an IRR of 8.84%. We have committed $175 to a number of managers but have only funded $ 98M to date. More importantly we have already had $43M distributed to the system. Our Private Equity portfolio is invested in funds that have a life of 10-12 years before they reach full value. The monies already distributed show the diversification that allows for some immediate return while the longer duration funds seek investments with long term performance profiles. As they mature we expect returns in the 20% range. This investment class assures good returns over a defined period which helps to sure up the monies utilized for benefit payments.

The Fire Service Retirement Plan now has net assets of $ 503M after expenses and benefit payments. The assets increased by $ 39M after investment expenses and $ 11.9M for benefit payments for a net increase of $ 27M this quarter. Ours is now the second largest plan in the system.  

Our funded ratio after necessary changes in the assumptions is in the mid 80’s.   This is a well funded public plan as recognized by investment professionals.

As always please send any questions my way via e-mail, leroy1563@aol.com or by cell 443-324-8708

Fraternally

LeRoy Wilkison

Fire Plan Trustee

____________________________________________

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – 1st Quarter 2014

 

Brothers and Sisters:

The first quarter was very different from last year. Stocks have oscillated back and forth and gained 1.8% for the S&P 500 and a modest 1.1% for the Russell 2000 indexes. Bond markets started strong led by US credit up 2.9%, long duration credit up 6.3% and high yield bonds up 3.0%. Private markets show strong commitments which equaled 2013 levels.

Our portfolio returned 2.0% for the quarter which placed in the 12th percentile of all public plans. Our annualized return was reported at 10.2%. All of our US Equity managers exceeded their benchmark for the quarter. Our total equity return was 1.4% while our fixed income performance was 2.5%. Our global asset class also increased by 3.9%. Our Special Opportunities placement increased by 2.2% with and annual return of 29.6%. Our Private Equity Composite lags reporting by one quarter but for the year was 12.0%.

The FIRE Plan, after expenses and benefit payments, increased an additional $ 8.6M. The total plan assets now held in trust for pension benefits is $ 484,692,910. There will be some changes as we expect a number of DROP retirements during the next two quarters.

The Investment committee continues to monitor our portfolio and is considering some minor changes in the asset allocation for the next year. We continue to diversify the assets to help protect against a downturn in the economy.

The reported COLA increases for July 1 are 1.4% for accrued service prior to 2/1/1997 and .9% for time accrued after 2/1/1997.

As always, any questions can be directed to me at leroy1563@aol.com or my cell, 443-324-8708.

Fraternally,

LeRoy Wilkison

Fire Plan Trustee

 

 ______________________________________

Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System

Board of Trustees – Final report 2013

Brothers and Sisters:

            This year was very stable and profitable for the Pension System. The total System return for the year was 10.9% and the return since inception (Sept. 1990) with New England Pension Consultants (NEPC) is 8.9%.   Investment returns for the year were $124 M and the total of System assets now stand at $1,609,068,487.

            While there may be some concern regarding the return for the year, it should be noted that the asset allocation model was changed at the beginning of the year to further de-risk the portfolio. To do that some profits were taken from domestic equities and reallocated to other asset classes. By doing that we didn’t participate fully in the equity run up in 2013 but we managed the portfolio to maximize return while reducing risk to the portfolio. I believe we accomplished that goal in a managed and sensible manner.

The following asset classes accounted for the increase in system value;

  • Domestic Equities - 33.2%

  • International Equities - 27.9%

  • Emerging Market Equities – (3.2%)

  • Core Fixed income – (0.1)

  • High Yield Fixed Income – 6.5%

  • Emerging Markets Fixed Income – (5.8%)

  • Global Asset Allocation – (0.1)

  • Opportunistic Investments – 31.4%

  • Real Estate – 12.8%

  • Private Equity Investments – 13.5%

While you see some very good returns for equities the poor fixed income returns reduce the overall results. You may remember several years back when just the opposite was true with the bonds holding up the stock portfolio. That’s why we attempt to have a good balance and a diversified portfolio. The idea is to protect the assets for the long term to pay benefits long into the future. 

The following is a synopsis of the Fire Plan activity for 2013;

  • Plan contributions by the County were $16.2 M and employees contributed $2.4 M.

  • The Fire Plan investment income increased in value by $42.9 M after expenses.

  • Total net addition to the Plan with contributions and investment gains equaled $61.4 M.

  • Benefit payments for the year totaled $26.9 M with administrative expenses of$583 K.

  • The net increase in Plan assets after benefit payments and expensesin 2013 is $39 M. for a total Plan asset value of $ 476,085,379.

The Investment Committee continues to monitor the portfolio and in the past year we have fired several managers for under performance and hired replacements. We will review our asset allocations shortly to determine if we have the best mix going forward to attain our 8% actuarial return profile while, as previously stated, reducing the risk to the System.   

As always, if there are any questions, please give me a call.

Fraternally,

LeRoy Wilkison

                      


Oct 29, 2010

Medical Plan


Feb 14, 2006

 

 

 

To be added to the AA County Retirees email group contact:

Mike Wiley

aaretffemail@verizon.net

 

For information on the Florida Chapter contact:

Rick Smith

Captain1116@aol.com

 

To obtain Retired Firefighter Tags forward your contact information

to Frank Homberg
  frankhomberg@verizon.net

 

or leave a voice mail at the retirees office. 

 

OFFICE PHONE:  (410) 987-1180

Note:  This is the phone line to the Union Office.  They will take a message and leave it for the Retired Assoc.  After hours select item #2 on the menu.  The office messages are not checked on a regular basis.  If this is an urgent matter contact Retiree's Assoc. Communications Director/email coordinator Mike Wiley either via email aaretffemail@verizon.net or 410 208 2818 (Home).  If you can not reach him VP Bill Poteet 410 987 0876. Either of them can relay the message to the proper person.


Sep 09, 2010

We have received several inquires from retirees who have been audited regarding this benefit.


Download: HELPSQ&A.pdf , IRS-Instructions.pdf

Mar 03, 2006

The following is from Personnel in reference to the rate increase for those that kept the term life insurance when they retired. It explains in detail the reasons for the increase.
====================================================
While we understand your concern, please note that this was not an easy decision to make, but nonetheless it was one the County had to make. Earlier this year, we went through a competitive bid process for a new life insurance vendor as the c...ontract term for our provider ends 12/31/16. The bid requested blended rates (same rate for every retiree regardless of age) and rates according to age bands (an industry standard for group term life insurance).

Rates are determined by an actuarial review of the age of the group participants , the amount of insurance and the actual experience of the group (claims paid out). MetLife was selected because their retiree rates were more affordable than the other bids submitted. To mitigate the increase, we opted for the age banded rates. The bands appropriately balance the cost across the risk pool based on age. Generally speaking, the older you are the more you will pay in group term life insurance.

The County makes every attempt to mitigate the expenses of our active members and retirees and be good stewards of costs and overall affordability.

It is understood that based upon your income situation you may need to re-evaluate your participation level in this voluntary benefit offering. A form was enclosed with your letter should you decide to reduce or cancel your coverage.

Please note that you have the open enrollment period, October 1-31, 2016, should you elect to make a change. Otherwise your coverage will remain at the current level under the new rate structure.

Anne Budowski
Assistant Personnel Officer
Anne Arundel County Government
Office of Personnel
Office: 410-222-4506

See More
The below article was forwarded by Retiree association board member “Chief Ski”.  Thought it may be of interest even if you have been retired for awhile but of particular interest to newly retired and  our associate members that will be retiring in the next few years.  The article appeared in recent copy of FireResuce1 Magazine with credit to the author Robert Avsec.
 

7 truths about fire service retirement

By Robert Avsec

Read below from FireRescue1

 

If you think it is hard to get into the fire service, wait until you try to get out; here are things you can do now to navigate that end-of-career change Retirement from a life-long career can be a stressful event, regardless of the field. Research conducted in the military and law enforcement fields shows that retirement from a career in public safety can be more stressful than retirement from the civilian workforce. Most firefighters I've ever had the pleasure to know have worked hard to get their first job.

 

For many of us, that journey started in the volunteer ranks where we cut our teeth in the business. Many others worked for two or three paid-on-call services or "comboed" a fire department job with an EMS gig before getting that one job that paid enough to make it their sole fire service endeavor. Then once we were in, we immersed ourselves in the fire service culture. Our fellow firefighters became our second family; truth be known, we spent more time with that family than we did with our spouses and children.

 

The break up When that retirement date comes and goes it might seem like a divorce. Suddenly, that second family will be nowhere to be found. Getting into the fire service was easy compared to what it was like to leave it. The only other careers that parallel that of the fire service — that strong sense of camaraderie, daily exposures to the unknown, and retirement at an early age — are found in law enforcement and the military. Here are a few things that you can expect to experience once you hang up your turnout gear for the last time.

 

1. The loss of camaraderie is real. No matter how much you complained, you will miss your fire service family within a relatively short period of time. The term divorce is an apt description, despite it being an amiable one. When you return to your former second home, you'll likely feel that you only have visitation rights, especially when you start seeing all those new faces.

 

2. The normal world is sometimes a crazy place. After years of living on a work cycle (mine was 24 hours on and 48 hours off), you'll find yourself needing to adjust to the world of the 40-hour work week, especially if you take on another job. It was always much easier to shop, make doctor appointments, schedule vacations and the like when weekday hours were fully in play.

 

3. You'll never be busier than after you retire. Many of my fellow retirees have remarked how busy they became after they retired. Whether it was getting to all those "honey-do" projects that you never seemed to have time for or taking care of business for family and friends, your weekly schedule can fill up in a hurry.

 

4. What to wear becomes a confusing. Choosing what to wear was a lot easier when it meant grabbing a clean uniform. Most guys don't want to admit this, but wardrobe management is not necessarily in our DNA. If you go into another field of work after retirement that requires real clothes — not one of the 100 polo shirts you accumulated over your fire service career — you can spend more than a few minutes each day finding matching clothes. Over time that equals hours, then days, then weeks that you spend doing nothing but thinking about what shirt to wear.

 

5. Finding work that's as fulfilling as firefighting hard. A colleague, upon her retirement, said, "I'm not retiring, I'm 'refiring.'" For most of us, retiring in our mid-50s means finding a new career to help pay for those mortgages and college tuition bills that keep coming. We're trained to be America's problem solvers, those people call when they don't know who to call. While we're on the job many firefighters and officer might gripe about some of the calls that we respond to, especially those that we felt didn't need the fire department. But it's hard to beat the sense of satisfaction that comes after you and your crew handled the difficult fire or motor vehicle crash or complicated rescue. It's tough to find that kind of satisfaction working in the non-fire service world.

 

6. The higher you are, the harder it is. The higher the rank, the greater the sense of loss of friendships, prestige and self-esteem. In his Executive Fire Officer Program research paper "Problems and Success Factors Inherent in Fire Service Retirement," Gerald Bates wrote that he found a significant relationship between the participants' rank at the time of retirement and their perception of their personal and social relationships. As we progress through the ranks, our circle of friends and colleagues shrinks. As officers, we learn to maintain that delicate balance between being friendly on the job with firefighters and junior officers and lapsing into friendships that can be detrimental to the good of the order. This is particularly true for men, as research has demonstrated that lasting male relationships are closely connected with their work. Being a fire officer also means that you probably had some significant roles and responsibilities managing people, physical resources and budgets. After a career of shouldering those kinds of duties, it can be difficult to wake up one day as a team of one. It can also be a difficult adjustment for your spouse and family as well; as my wife still tells me from time to time, "You're not the chief anymore." Reality check.

 

7. You'll become familiar with America's health care system. Your health and wellness moves up on your list of life's priorities. Nothing says you've moved into the second half of life's football game like retirement. Those little nagging aches and pains take on a new significance, especially when you don't have that peer pressure to keep working through them. Think about how many retired firefighters finally get surgeries for those knee and shoulder problems that they've been putting off for years. A successful retirement In his research, Bates found that 95.7 percent of his survey's participants felt that their retirement was successful. "The primary determinant of a successful and satisfying retirement appeared to be directly related to the level of planning that went into it," he wrote. "The most satisfied retirees tended to be those who planned for their retirement several years in advance." As firefighters, we know the value of conducting pre-plans for target hazards in our district and there's great value in applying that strategy to your second career.

Consider these retirement target hazards and pre-plan accordingly.

 

• Your personal characteristics.

 

• Your reasons for retirement.

 

• Your financial security.

 

• Your level of activity in retirement.

 

• Your social and personal relationships.

 

• Your physical and mental health.

 

Everyone's responses to the above will be different, but the one key for everyone is to plan for your retirement early in your career. Begin early in your firefighting career and focus on your career expectations, long-range financial plans, and the importance of developing a career and retirement plan in general.

 

By Robert Avsec

 

 

 

 .

 


Download: Health Care Error Letter.doc



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