The Associated Press
SALEM State pension fund managers are proposing a long repayment period that would ease the impact of getting refunds from some retired public employees who a judge has ruled got too much money in their pension accounts five years ago.
The Oregon Public Employees Retirement System's board is to consider the recommendations Friday in weighing whether to reduce pensions of 43,000 former state and local government workers by $800 million.
The staff suggests that the retirees make up for overpayments by paring pension benefits over the course of their retirements, spreading out repayments for some pensioners until they die.
It's estimated that plan would reduce pensions much less than the 10 percent allowed by law.
The pension board first must decide if it should take money back from retirees and others who left the pension system and, if so, how the money might be repaid.
Some retirees and union leaders want the pension system to instead use reserves or take the money out of future investment earnings. Many retirees resent any move to have them give back money, and some planned to attend the board meeting.
"If they're going to take money from us, I want them to look us right in the eye," said Michael Arken, leader of a group of retired American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union members.
Marion County Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb has ruled that the pension system's board should have put more of the pension fund's 1999 earnings into reserves instead of beefing up workers' pension accounts.
The Oregon Supreme Court last month let Lipscomb's decision stand.
The ruling affects workers who joined the system before 1996 and received pension investment earnings in their accounts for 1999.
Pension accounts of those employees who still are working are to be reduced. Workers who retired from April 1, 2000, through March 31, 2004, or otherwise left public employment could have to pay back some money to the system.