COLA Payout Up For Vote

WHEELING – Those receiving pensions from Wheeling’s Employee Retirement and Benefit Fund may receive a one-time cost of living adjustment if City Council grants its approval today.

Council members are set to hear this and other matters when they meet at 7 p.m. in the second-floor courtroom at the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St. The city Finance Committee recommended the adjustments after receiving a finding from the city’s actuarial firm, Duda Actuarial Consulting, that the fund could absorb the one-time COLA payment, which will cost about $48,000 and is based on figures from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 fiscal years.

The increases are determined by inflation levels from those two years reported through the National Consumer Price Index.

According to City Manager Robert Herron, the fund has been doing quite well and contains assets of $31,871,000, or about $2 million above full funding. This increase does not apply to beneficiaries of the city’s police and fire pension funds, which are just 35 and 26 percent funded, respectively.

City law stipulates that such COLAs must be determined financially feasible through an actuarial study and applied after the fact through a one-time payment approved by council.

The increases amount to a 1.63-percent increase over benefits paid in 2009-10 and 2.93 percent over those paid in 2010-11.

The maximum yearly increase allowed by ordinance is 3 percent.

Herron said the major difference in the funds is that benefit levels paid by the police and fire pensions are controlled in large part by the state, while Wheeling has full control over the regular municipal employee fund.

Council also will hear first reading of an ordinance that would change regular meeting times from the current 7 p.m.

Under the proposal, council still would meet on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, but would do so on a schedule alternating between noon and 5:30 p.m.

After hearing first reading Tuesday, council expects to vote on the matter at its next meeting Sept. 18.

That meeting already has been moved to noon, to avoid conflicting with Elton John’s performance at WesBanco Arena that evening.