As I’m sure all of you are aware, the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) went into effect July 1 and is a three-year contract. I know the timing is very confusing to a lot of our officers when they see their rate of pay reduced right after seeing it go up because of the PERS increase, so I thought I’d try to shed some light on why this happens every two years.
First of all, the LVPPA does not negotiate your PERS in any way. Your pension benefits are determined by the State Legislature every two years. This means you will not see an increase to your PERS contribution next year. Every two years, the PERS Board of Directors (BOD) orders an actuarial study to be completed to determine the strength of our retirement for both regular PERS (civilian) and police and fire PERS. The information from that study helps the PERS BOD decide if there is a need to increase the rate or contribution to your PERS. For example, this past year the PERS BOD was advised to raise the employer contribution from 44% to 50%, meaning your half of the contribution will be 25% of your rate of pay. Still confused? Let’s look at this in dollars. For every $100 Metro pays you, they must pay PERS $50; 25 of these dollars come directly from your rate of pay. Example: My rate of pay was $46.66 per hour. With the increase of 6%, the new rate of pay will be $49.46 per hour. Now in the third week of July, we have PERS taking 3% of the new rate of pay, lowering my rate of pay to $47.98 per hour. Once again trying to put this into dollars, if I was not contributing anything to my PERS, I would be making close to $59 per hour.
I know a lot of you feel like this is money lost forever, but it is not lost. Your contribution is simply deferred until retirement. All the contributions that are paid on your behalf are factored into your final pension benefit. Some call it a “kicker”; PERS calls it the “factor.”
A few other things to know are the different groups of retirement benefits we fall into.
The first group are those hired prior to January 1, 2010. These officers will receive 2.67% for each year of service completed after July 1, 2001, and 2.5% for each year completed prior to July 1, 2001, with a max benefit of 75% of their best 36 months of compensation.
The next group are those hired from January 1, 2010–June 30, 2015. These officers will receive 2.5% for each year of service, with a max benefit of 75% of their best 36 months of compensation.
The last group are those hired on or after July 1, 2015. These officers will receive 2.5% for each year of service, with a max benefit of 75% of their best 36 months of compensation.
So what’s the difference between the last two groups? The differences are between the time of eligibility to retire without penalty and the money that goes toward your pension (pensionable money, callback, callout, purchased time, etc.). Each group has its own rules based on when you were hired. Note: If you were hired as a civilian employee in the NVPERS system, you can use your hire date from that employment to determine your police and fire eligibility. I don’t want to get too in-depth, but you can always ask a PERS counselor for help when you have questions regarding past employment, or you are welcome to call me directly to get some of your questions answered.
One final thing I want to clear up is the question, “Why do I have to work 33 1/3 years?” The answer: You don’t!
This inaccurate information usually comes from the Academy staff or an FTO. The math is simple: 2.5% per year for 30 years equals 75%. Someone is looking at the civilian language in PERS and confusing it with police and fire benefits. This is how rumors and bad information get started.
Please call me with any questions regarding the new CBA language or questions about your PERS.
Please be safe, and thank you for your membership.