Friday, December 21, 2007

City Of Milwaukee Pension System Is A Star

When I worked in Milwaukee City Hall (1996-2004), the conventional wisdom there was that city services and managers outshone their county counterparts.

Sure, there was some hubris involved, but you will remember that as the County's pension system was sinking into a swamp of debt, insider-dealing and other fiscal and political miseries, the city's pension system was buffeted only by disagreements about much of a growing surplus it could prudently distribute without destabilizing the balance sheets.

The Journal Sentinel carried an editorial brief Friday that indicated by at least one professional measurement, Milwaukee's pension fund is the best publicly-run retirement system in America.

That's good news for both beneficiaries (yes, that includes me) and for city taxpayers, who should be spared the need to contribute tax money to keep the fund solvent and productive.

It's all a tribute to the fund's board and philosophies, led by an exceedingly committed Alderman, Michael Murphy, plus a low-key staff who work efficiently for the fund's employee-owners and city taxpayers.

The next time your hear that government can't get anything right, and can't manage money, remember what you read or heard about Milwaukee's pension fund.

Here's what the paper had to say:

"The City of Milwaukee got a well-deserved early Christmas present this week when the investment advising firm of R.V. Kuhns & Associates said the city had the best-funded public retirement in the nation.

"The firm studied 83 of the nation's largest retirement systems. City Comptroller W. Martin Morics noted that the city had an annualized five-year return of 12.7%, compared to the median of 11.7%.

"Morics and Ald. Michael Murphy, chairman of the Annuity and Pension Board's Investment Committee, said the city outperformed the likes of the state systems in New York, Illinois and, yes, Wisconsin. Take a bow, Milwaukee."

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