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West Mifflin replaces investment firm for retirement accounts

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 2:36 a.m.

West Mifflin borough is changing the investment firm it uses to handle its retirement accounts for police and public works employees.

The decision at a regular meeting on Tuesday to switch to US Assets sparked some debate among councilors, who approved the decision by a 4-2 vote, because the borough was with the firm previously but opted to quit using it after suffering a $2 million loss during the financial crisis of 2008.

Council president Michael Moses said borough officials decided last year that they wanted to find a replacement for its current retirements provider, VALIC, because they were dissatisfied with the cost of investing and the returns. Moses said he supported the move back to US Assets because that firm is local to the Pittsburgh area, appears to be suited to the municipality's needs and has made changes to its administration since 2008.

Councilman John Andzelik, who voted against going back to US Assets, along with councilman Michael Olack, said he did so because he believes the board acted too quickly without studying the matter. Andzelik, a retired borough police officer and chief, said he had personal concerns about the performance of the retirement fund and noted the borough only spoke with representatives of US Assets last week.

The borough also received proposals from Wells Fargo and Millennium Investments after putting out a request for proposals in September.

Resident Jay Goonetilleke, who served on the committee charged with evaluating the submitted retirement proposals, said he thought Millennium would be better suited for the borough's needs.

The seven-member committee received proposals from nine firms and narrowed the choices down to the final three, based on past performance.

Borough officials said the committee never made a unanimous decision on which firm to recommend.

Councilman Robert Kostelnik, who voted in favor of US Assets along with Moses, Scott Stephenson and John Munsie, said the company is a good choice based on its performance managing retirement funds for West Mifflin Sanitary Sewer Municipal Authority.

The borough contributes approximately $1.2 million annually to the retirement funds for police and public works employees.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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