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Unfunded Pensions: Who Is Responsible?

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010

Most of the debate about unfunded public pensions centers on the nation's largest city governments. The situation is equally critical in some of our smaller communities.

South Burlington, Vermont has a population of only 17,000, but the current pension plan is underfunded by $9 million.

Council members have placed the blame on former city manager Chuck Hafter -- they allege he knew of the growing problem but failed to inform the council or the community.

In fact, the council has asked for a formal investigation by the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA). The runaway costs,  Hafter says, are due to public safety enhancements; the council is accusing him of negligence, concealment, and possible personal financial benefit.

Regardless of the outcome of any investigation, this case is an indication of the pervasive problem state and local governments face when trying to live up to negotiated benefits.

Tags: council members, relationships between elected officials and staff

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