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Message from the Executive Director

Jeff Pedicino

I have been attending meetings of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, ORSC. This committee oversees all 5 public pension systems in Ohio. Late last year the actuary did an analysis of the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, OP & F. It was discovered that the fund was not in compliance with the State mandated 30 year funding requirement. It was at 47 years. This meant by law the OP & F Fund had to submit a plan to the ORSC within 90 day that would get the fund to the required 30 year funding requirement. This plan had to be submitted to the ORSC by January 18, 2014.

The Executive Board of the OP & F Fund submitted to the OSRC the following recommendations to achieve the 30 year funding:

  • Increase the active employee contribution to 12.25% on July 1, 2014. This is a year ahead of schedule.  It was to go to 11.5% on 7-1-14 then 12.25% on 7-1-15.
  • Increase new hire contribution rate to 13% after 7-1-15.
  • Lower the percentage of money going into the healthcare stabilization account to .5% from 2.85%. This would mean there would be enough money to subsidize for 10 years. This action will take effect on 7-1-14 and improves the funding period from 47 years to 38 years.
  • Lower the COLA to 2.25% with Board authority to alter COLA in the future. The lower COLA would apply to all recipients except those that retired prior to July 25, 1986.
  • Have a blended employer contribution rate for police and fire personnel of 21.61% from the current 19.5% for police and 24% for fire

The next meeting of the ORSC will be in February to discuss the proposed changes. All of the above recommendations would need to go through the legislature except for the lowering of the percentage going into the health care stabilization fund.  It is unknown if or even when any action would be taken by the legislative body on these recommendations. The OP & F Fund had an extremely good year of returns on investments in 2013. That along with the poor returns of 2008 coming off the actuary calculations should also help the fund in the future.  The good returns along with the recently enacted changes from SB 340, pension reform, should assist the fund in achieving its 30 year target. The OPBA will continue to monitor the changes moving forward.



It is that time of year to remind our membership that the OPBA policy is not to release any information to any company or vendor. If a company has information that they wish to send our membership they must use our mail house and incur all the costs of such mailings. There is one free benefit, a $4000 Accidental Death and dismemberment policy, that is currently provided by American Income Life, AIL. Members in good standing do not need to do anything to receive this benefit. If you choose to return the enclosed card from AIL they will contact you to list your beneficiary and to also present other insurance or investment products. This information is in the cover letter. They have assisted at least 6 families over the last 5+ years of being associated with the OPBA. They have similar relationships with other police and labor unions in Ohio.



This year, as in the first 2 years of my term, we will be moving our General Membership Meeting to Columbus in March and again to Toledo in October.  The purpose of moving the meetings is to allow the membership from different areas of the state the ability to attend without a 2 to 4 hour drive to North Royalton.

Also during the first 2 years of my term the OPBA wanted to give membership in other areas of the state the opportunity to attend a family day closer to their homes. In 2012 we had an event with the Columbus Clippers. In 2013 we had an event with the Dayton Dragons. This year the second event will be in Toledo at the Toledo Mudhens Stadium on Saturday June 21,2014 along with our Indians day on Friday, June 14, 2014. There is limited quantity of tickets for each event and are on a first come first serve basis. There will be the opportunity to purchase additional tickets. There will be additional information as to how to obtain tickets when they become available.


Last Updated (Monday, 17 March 2014 18:22)

 

Message from the Executive Director

My second full year as the Executive Director is coming to a close on December 31, 2013. There have been quite a few internal operational changes including but not limited to review of a majority of the organizational business relationships that we use on a day to day basis. I will be reviewing the effects of those changes after December 31st to determine if any additional changes should be made in order to make the organization even more stable moving into the future.  In 2014 we will continue to move the General Membership meetings to other areas of the state to allow members the opportunity to attend. We will also be looking into moving our 2nd family day into the northwest part of the state.

During my first 2 years the OPBA has been involved with pension reform, a legal challenge to our collective bargaining rights from the City of Munroe Falls (article from the last issue), numerous representational elections, right to work legislation and a citizens petition from the Citizens4Norton that could have had disastrous consequences to our membership in Norton and throughout the State of Ohio. These are just some of the issues that the OPBA has been involved in the last 2 years.

Unfortunately the City of Norton issue has now been put back on the ballot in December 2013. This issue if it passes the 2nd time around would limit the amount the residents pay for sewer and water bills, alter sewer assessments and tie-in fees. The monies needed to pay for this issue if passed would need to come from the general fund and could have a devastating effect on city services and our members who provide services to the residents.

There is currently another citizen driven initiative ongoing for a right to work amendment which would place this issue on the ballot if enough signatures are obtained. Even though legislation that was introduced earlier in the year in the General Assembly has stalled this petition drive is ongoing. Recently Representative Maag has talked about his legislation that was previously introduced. The OPBA will continue to monitor this issue as we move into 2014.

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The Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund is under the scrutiny of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, ORSC, for not being within the 30 year funding mandate. The changes that SB 340 passage implemented have only been in place since July 1, 2013. OP & F will have to submit a plan by January of 2014 to bring the system into compliance with the 30 year mandate.  The next ORSC meeting was to be held on November 14, 2013. We will hopefully have more information after that meeting concerning any potential changes.

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It is that time of the year to consider any worthy officers for consideration of the 21st Annual TOP COPS Awards sponsored by the National Association of Police Organizations, NAPO our national representative in Washington DC. The TOP COPS will take place on Monday May 12, 2014 in Washington DC. The nomination form and instructions are in this issue as well as NAPO’s web site www.napo.org

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Lastly, I along with the Executive Board and staff hope that you and your families have a safe, healthy and Happy Holidays throughout the New Year.

Last Updated (Sunday, 15 December 2013 14:50)

 

Message from the Executive Director

The OPBA has been active in Columbus along with the recruitment of new departments. I and/or our Special Council Justice Andy Douglas have been attending Ohio Retirement Study Council, ORSC, meetings. The first meetings that were attended the legislative members of ORSC questioned the financial stability of the OP &F Fund. The new Executive Director, John Gallagher, of the OP & F fund and its actuary spoke stating the fund had the best returns, 14.9%, in 2012, of a majority of the funds. They also stated that the changes from pension reform have yet to be fully implemented so their concerns were basically premature. In the most recent meeting attended, the ORSC made proposals on the authority that had been granted by the recently enacted pension reform bills for the OP & F, SERS, STRS and HPRS funds. The OPBA will continue to monitor activity with the ORSC, pension systems and legislature.


I recently testified at a Joint Senate hearing concerning School Safety of the Public Safety and Education Committees chaired by Senator LaRose and Senator Lehner respectfully. This committee was formed prior to any legislation being proposed because the committee chairs felt it was necessary to get input from the respective stakeholders prior to any legislation being introduced.  The joint committee was going to review the 4 days worth of testimony to determine the best course of action moving forward with any possible legislation. Two issues that the committee members were to look more closely at were ratio of school psychologists to students as well as school resource officers.


The OPBA has recently been involved in elections in Garfield Hts. and Shaker Hts. Police Departments. In Garfield Hts. the OPBA filed petitions for election to have the patrol officer’s switch from the local FOP lodge to the OPBA. I would like to welcome the Garfield Hts. Patrol Officers who voted 21 to 13 in favor of the OPBA. The petitions for election at Shaker Hts. PD were for the OPBA to become the exclusive representative for the patrol unit and supervisors unit over their current representative the local FOP lodge. I would also like to welcome the Shaker Hts. patrol unit which the OPBA won 26-17 and the Shaker Hts. supervisors unit which was won by 8-5 margin. The OPBA is now in the transition phase with both departments. I realize that the OPBA must now show through action to the aforementioned departments that the choice made was the correct one taking their memberships forward. I believe that the OPBA will prove to not only our supporters but every member that the change was correct. The OPBA has recently been contacted by 2 Sheriff Departments and another police department.

When I began my first term in January of 2012, I had stated that I truly believed that the OPBA provides unparalled representation and service to its membership. I believe it is because of that representation that we won the aforementioned elections. I personally became involved in those representational services the evening of March 17, 2013 with an officer involved shooting in Solon. I made contact with a staff attorney minutes after being notified of the incident, and upon arrival at the local hospital the involved officers were put in contact with the an attorney within the hour.  It is this type of service that OPBA provides that sets us apart.


The OPBA has continued to move membership meetings around the State of Ohio. On March 7, 2013 our membership meeting was held in Columbus. John Gallagher, Executive Director, and Scott Huff of OP&F, Fund as well as Mr. Gordon Gatien, Government Relations officer from OPERS, attended our meeting. These representatives made presentations and answered questions from the members in attendance.
This is the second year that we have had a second family day in another area of the State. The OPBA wanted to provide our membership that is spread throughout the State the ability to participate in a family day without having to drive a prohibitive distance. This year our second event will be at the Dayton Dragons at Fifth Third Field, Dayton, Ohio.


Last Updated (Friday, 14 June 2013 09:20)

 

Message from the Executive Director

The first year of my term has almost passed. After the hard fought battle with Issue 2 in 2011 we immediately moved into 2012 with pension reform issues. The OPBA became extensively involved in the bills prior to them reaching the House.
One of the more significant changes that the OPBA took in January of 2012 was the decision to retain retired Justice Andy Douglas to be Counsel to the Board of the OPBA. It was with his influence and guidance that meetings were set with the Speaker of the House. At that meeting   the concerns with certain facets of the pension reform bills, particularly granting the Pension Board authority to make changes, were raised by the OPBA. I testified at the first House sub-committee hearing on pension reform in August of 2012. The OPBA was present at a majority of the hearings and with Justice Douglas’ assistance a personal meeting was set with the Executive Director of OPERS during the hearings. It is the intent moving forward that the OPBA will become more involved at the State level as it relates to the issues that affect our membership.

There have been many changes to the internal workings of the organization that will not be noticeable to the average member. Once the changes that have been instituted are in effect for a while and the others that are in transition are totally implemented there should be increased efficiency to our day to day operations. The OPBA will continue to move the General Membership meetings throughout the State each year which will allow those members living a prohibited distance from North Royalton the opportunity to attend. The March 2013 General Membership meeting will again be in the Columbus area.
The OPBA will continue to rotate an additional Family Day throughout the State in 2013. We will continue to have a Family Day with the Cleveland Indians but in 2013 we are looking into a family day with the Dayton Dragons for our membership in the southwest part of the state.


The most personal and emotional moments of my first year came with the attendance of the services and wakes for those who had passed. One of the last that I attended was for Officer Jason Gresko of our member Department, Willoughby Police Department. This service brought back many personal memories especially the affects these incidents have on not only the officer’s immediate family but their extended police family, the department specifically and the entire police community in general. We must never forget the sacrifices that these fallen heroes have made along with their families.


It also reminded me of a poem by Linda Ellis entitled “The Dash”.  The poem focuses on the significance of each person’s dash. Each and every one of our members should be proud of the services that they provide in their chosen professions as they continue to make a difference in the performance of their chosen careers. My pledge is to continue to work for the betterment of our organization and law enforcement in general. The “union” is and always will be the cohesiveness and camaraderie that each and every department maintains and fosters. The OPBA will continue to provide its members with unequaled service and representation.



The elections are now over and with the makeup of both houses on the National and State levels basically remaining status quo along with the President winning re-election we must now wait and see what direction they take.  We must continually adapt, anticipate and plan for changes that may be occurring in the future. Health care benefits in retirement must be continually monitored since it is not a benefit that is statutorily guaranteed. I have been in contact with a major insurance company in an attempt to determine if they could offer an alternative post retirement health care plan that could be negotiated into contracts other than those currently available. My former department has a VEBA plan, post retirement health plan, but there are few companies that offer such plans. This new plan from this insurance company may allow beneficiaries to be added unlike the plans that are currently available. This will allow members an additional choice that could possibly be negotiated into future contracts to assist with health care premiums and deductibles. As more information becomes known I will make it available.


In the following pages there is a TOP COPS Awards Nomination Form from The National Association of Police Organizations, NAPO, our National Organization. This event honors those officers who have gone above and beyond the call to duty. Ohio has had several Top Cop award winners and honorable mentions in years past including most recently the 2011 Top Cop winner from Copley P.D. , Officer Ben Campbell. If you know of any officer who may be deserving of this honor please complete and submit the nomination form. Even if they do not receive the TOP COP award they may receive an Honorable Mention. The incidents or case that they are being nominated for must have occurred or concluded between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.



Finally with the Holiday season upon us the OPBA wishes everyone a Happy Holiday and a New Year that is filled with good health, happiness and prosperity.

Last Updated (Saturday, 09 March 2013 12:51)

 

Sept. 2012

Summer has passed and our 2 family days with the Cleveland Indians and Columbus Clippers were well attended. The latter, however, was on the eve of the funeral for Deputy from Delaware County Sheriff Department Detective Dan Otto who died in a tragic accident while in California. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and department for their loss. Our Annual Golf Outing was held on July 18, 2012 at Mallard Creek and it was also well attended and a success. This outing is the only formal fundraiser for the Police Benevolent Fund to date.


The attention now turns to the pension reform bills that are proposed in Columbus and the elections this November. Justice Douglas, the CPPA and it representatives and I met with the Speaker of the House prior to the release of the pension reform study. The message that Justice Douglas and I left with the Speaker was that the legislature needs to act on the proposed changes immediately.  These changes have been almost 3 years in the making and further delay to will affect the viability and solvency of the pension systems. The OPBA expressed our reservations with the granting of authority to the pension board to make changes to the systems without legislative interaction. The links to the respective bills S.B. 340, OP & F, and S.B. 343, PERS, can be found on our website by clicking on Senate Bill Analysis for the respective bills. Testimony should have been heard by the House in August with an eventual vote hopefully before the November elections. The report on the 30 year plans for the pension systems may be viewed on the Ohio Retirement Study Council web site at http://orsc.org check under the reports section: thirty year funding plan. If you go to the Ohio Legislature website, http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/, you can check for updates on the status of these bills.

Health care is a concern as our members approach retirement and are in retirement. We have met with the Executive Director to voice concerns for OPERS proposed changes but to also educate me on the plan. Unfortunately, our health care benefits are not guaranteed in our public pension systems by statute. As stakeholders, members should voice their concerns and objections to their respective systems as well as any objections that may come from the OPBA. I have directed the members of the Executive Board that are in OPERS-LE to monitor and advise me of relevant information since I have never been a member of that system. The lack of any guarantees for health care is the reason that I have written two articles on post retirement health care plans to be negotiated into contracts. In my former department, Solon PD, we had negotiated that provision into our contract in 2005.


The National Association of Police Organizations held its Annual Convention the last week of July. Invitations had been extended to both Presidential campaigns. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. addressed the convention; however, there was no response from the presumed Republican Presidential candidate, Governor Romney, or any representative from the Republican Party. The endorsement was unanimous for President Obama. I realize that personally there may be reservations with this but Governor Romney has stated he favors defined contribution pensions over our defined benefit programs. Governor Romney also stated his unwillingness to support expansion of collective bargaining rights. Executive Secretary Tom Austin has a separate article with the endorsements to date of candidates from Ohio. Justice Terrence O’Donnell, Justice Robert R.Cupp and Justice Yvette McGee Brown who appear on the front cover were endorsed by the OPBA for the Ohio Supreme Court.

Other speakers at the convention included Director Bernard Melekian of COPS U.S. Department of Justice who spoke on the COPS program and from the U.S. Department of Justice; Thomas Abt, Chief of Staff; Office of Justice Programs spoke on the Public Safety Officers Benefit Act, PSOB. There was a pledge by Mr. Abt to reduce the delays in the granting of benefits to the families requesting them. NAPO has worked with member organizations to assist them in receiving the benefits for families from their organizations in obtaining benefits that may be delayed from PSOB.  NAPO has argued that benefits from PSOB should not be tied to officers wearing their bulletproof vests if purchased through the assistance of the federal government.  There is more information in the articles from the NAPO July Washington Report on PSOB and COPS funding.



The next General Membership meeting in October will be held in the Toledo area.  The remaining Board of Directors meeting in November and General Membership meeting in December will be in North Royalton. The movement of the General Membership meetings will continue to rotate throughout the State of Ohio to afford our departments throughout the state a chance to attend meetings.


Last Updated (Sunday, 09 September 2012 09:15)

 
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