The Herald Bulletin

January 21, 2013

Ingalls town officials vote to quit private pension plan

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

INGALLS, Ind. — After learning that a town pension plan created a decade ago violates state law, town officials here are making amends.

The five-member Town Council voted unanimously last week to quit the private plan and move the money to an authorized state retirement plan.

Two council members — Tim Green and Tim Millikan — said they were upset to learn that the pension violated state law from stories that appeared in The Herald Bulletin.

Green said there was no question the Town Council had to take action.

“It needed to be addressed,” he said. “We have been told we’re doing something illegal .... I don’t think we’re talking about a lot of money, but we’re still violating state law.”

“Everybody across the board was pretty upset about it,” Millikan added.

He called it one of several matters that need to be addressed. “We’re going to take one issue at a time and get everything fixed.”

At issue is a retirement plan known as a Savings Incentive Matching Plan for Employees of Small Employers Individual Retirement Account, or SIMPLE IRA.

Town officials had no authority under state law to create that pension plan, the State Board of Accounts said in several audits of town finances dating back to 2006.

The Board of Accounts reviews the financial statements of all government units in Indiana, including cities, towns, utilities, schools, hospitals and state colleges and universities.

The only pension plans available to cities and towns are the Public Employees’ Retirement Fund, or PERF, and nine other specialized retirement plans, according to the Board of Accounts.

Millikan and Green said one of their concerns is that members of the council weren’t made aware of problems or supplied with copies of the audit.

“I can’t speak to what past boards have done,” said Millikan, who is serving his first term on the council. Millikan said. “All I can do is speak to what I will do.”

Green said the current council “is trying to do a lot of new things and a lot of good things. You have to do your job right and be accountable for what you do.”

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