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Pittsburgh's financial chief asserts health of pension system

| Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb this afternoon said that the projected value of the city's pensions is nearly $573 million, well over the amount needed to avoid a state takeover.

Lamb released a report to the city's Comprehensive Municipal Pension Trust Fund Board that showed that between this year and 2041, the city will dedicate $735.6 million in parking taxes toward the pensions. The present-day value of that money, Lamb said, is $238 million.

However, the final arbiter on whether the state will assume control of the pension is the state's Public Employee Retirement Commission, which won't make a decision until this fall.

Under state law, the city had until Dec. 31 to show it had enough money to cover at least 50 percent of $1 billion in pension obligations for 8,000 retirees and employees. City officials warned a state takeover would mean the city would have to pay crippling annual pension payments topping $100 million.

Council voted on New Year's Eve to irrevocably dedicate parking taxes to the pension for the next 30 years. It also made a one-time payment of $45 million.

A representative of the retirement commission was not immediately available for comment this afternoon.

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