Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION -

Con­tin­ued from A1

Even by chang­ing the el­i­gi­bil­ity rules for the first time in a decade and adding ex­tra money, bud­get staffers es­ti­mate that the fund won’t be fully ro­bust and healthy un­til 2030.

The city will not al­ter the pen­sion ben­e­fits or el­i­gi­bil­ity rules for cur­rent work­ers or re­tirees, and the fund is not in im­me­di­ate dan­ger of fail­ing to cover its costs, Deputy Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Jeff Kn­odel said.

The city also doesn’t plan to change the for­mu­las for po­lice or fire­fight­ers, who have sep­a­rate pen­sion funds that are in bet­ter fi­nan­cial shape, he said.

Any changes to fu­ture work­ers’ ben­e­fits must be ap­proved by the state Leg­is­la­ture. Bud­get staffers hope to bring changes to the board and the City Coun­cil for a vote by early fall and to the Leg­is­la­ture next year, so they can take ef­fect in 2012.

Austin’s main pen­sion fund cov­ers about 4,000 re­tirees and 8,000 work­ers who are not po­lice or fire­fight­ers. The fund showed signs of trou­ble when the econ­omy fal­tered af­ter Sept. 11, 2001, and it took an­other hit when the stock mar­ket tanked in 2008.

It be­gan to re­bound last year but still has only 72 cents of ev­ery dol­lar needed to pay ben­e­fits to cur­rent and fu­ture work­ers.

That ra­tio is a barom­e­ter of the fund’s health, and pen­sion ex­perts say it should be at least 80 cents per dol­lar. Ex­cept for 2007 and 2009, when the ra­tio for Austin’s fund in­creased slightly, it has dropped or stayed the same ev­ery year since 2000, the last time the fund had enough money to cover all of its obli­ga­tions over the long term.

In the late 1990s, Austin’s pen­sion fund was in great shape with ro­bust re­turns, and the city wanted to in­crease ben­e­fits to at­tract good work-

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