Tere is no right answer. Opinions rule the day, and your opinion largely depends on your personal comfort level and the angle from which you are viewing retirement. Tere are a few things I have considered as we’ve gone through

this process. First of all, our system is trending the right direction and has become ever so slightly better funded over the last cou- ple of years. Also, for the future of government and this benefit, it is important that it be very solvent as we move forward — so we should all celebrate as this number increases. I also believe it is foolish for anyone to ever believe there is no risk with a system such as APERs regardless of its funding percentage. Even if funded at 100 percent a mass exodus of employees and economic downturn could be dangerous — and everyone, even retirees, could be in danger of losing benefits. BUT the higher the funding percentage, the better our system is able to absorb situations such as this. I strongly believe that those who have already retired based on a 3 percent COLA set in statute would be wronged if we choose to change that COLA for them. Many have made decisions based on this COLA. To change it once retirement occurs is unconscionable. I have learned that some of the other large systems in our state have been making changes in the past few years to draw them closer to a fully funded position. For instance, the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System (ATRS) has been slowly

increasing the contribution rate for its members and will soon reach a 7 percent contribution rate, while APERs em- ployees are at 5 percent. Tis increase has taken their funding level above 80 percent, and it is trending upward. And finally, while change may come, I have learned to think of a retirement system as a large cargo ship on a long- term trajectory — immediate changes can be small but have major impact years down the road. For instance, delaying any legislative changes over a two-year period during which the committee can properly analyze things will likely have very minimal long-term impact. Avoiding overreaction and quick fixes is the right way to approach systems such as APERs. Tank you to the many who have attended the 12 legislative committee meetings. Te committee is analyzing all of the in- put provided, and they hope to provide recommendations for any changes in a similar format by taking them to you again across the state … before they become bills in the 2021 legisla- tive session. Our opportunity to stay involved in this process is before us, and I encourage all of you to keep participating. Te AAC has put a tab on our website (www.arcounties. org) for retirement-related issues. Future meeting informa- tion and any other developments can be found there, as well as our social media activity. So please keep watching and stay involved — and also please continue to contact county retir- ees and keep them abreast of what is happening.

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