Phila city pension shows surprise rebound

City Controller Alan Butkovitz tells me the newly-completed annual fiduciary report for Philadelphia's beleagured pension plan for city workers shows a "surprise" improvement in the funded ratio - assets are now 50% of liabilities (corrected), up from 47%, back above the state's danger threshhold - moving the opposite direction from the increasingly cash-strapped Pennsylvania state pension systems.

How's that possible? Butkovitz cites slower-than-expected city payroll growth (just 1% last year, vs. expected 3.5%), a (possibly connected) decline in the cost of future benefits, and "outstanding" investment returns, due to the stock market recovery, of 19.4%.

I'll have to see the report to know more, but any release in pressure on the need to fund future retirements is good news for city taxpayers, workers, services.

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