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Release: Report Card on Municipal Pension Plans Grades 100 Largest Florida Cities

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                    
November 9, 2011       

CONTACT:  Valerie Wickboldt
(850) 222-3767

Report Card on Municipal Pension Plans Grades 100 Largest Florida Cities
~ LCI’s newest report shows majority of municipal pension plans receiving “B” or “C” grades ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI) today released grades on Florida’s 100 largest cities through Report Card: Florida Municipal Pension Plans, the latest report in their Tough Choices series. Much focus has been placed on the issue of government pension plans as state and county elected officials struggle to balance their budgets in a tough economy. This report delves deeper into the structure and success of municipal pension plans and builds on an earlier work by LCI on the costs and outstanding obligations of public pensions and retiree health insurance programs in Florida counties and municipalities.

“Among the 100 largest cities used in this report, there are a total of 208 defined benefit plans,” said Carol Weissert, Florida State University (FSU) political science professor and LCI director. “As the data illustrates, within a single city, the sustainability and costs of each pension plan may be significantly different. Although the topic of government pension plans can be relatively complex, it’s important that Floridians are made aware of the contractual obligations their tax dollars are on the hook for. That’s our goal with LCI’s municipal pension report card.”

Highlights of the report include:

  • The majority of the plans, about 53 percent, received “B” or “C” grades
  • More than 37 percent of the municipal plans received grades of “A” or “B”; 14 percent making an “A”
  • Nearly one-third of the plans earned a “D” or “F”
  • Underfunded pensions plans tend to be significantly more costly than well-funded pensions plans
  • General employee plans make up a larger share of the well-funded pension plans that cover other kinds of participants

“Our findings show great variation among municipal pension plans,” said David Matkin, assistant professor in FSU’s Askew School of Public Administration and Policy and research fellow on Report Card. “Some plans are well funded with costs below the median; others are in more tenuous positions with high costs and low sustainability. Our defined grades represent a snapshot of funding levels as they were presented in each city’s audited financial reports – most for fiscal year 2009.”

For more than 20 years, LCI has studied and promoted creative solutions to key private and public issues. LCI’s newest research series, Tough Choices: Facing Florida’s Governments is focused on state and local government relationships. Report Card is the fourth report released in this series. Over the next year, LCI will release further studies featuring analysis of trends in municipal spending and revenue, the effects of state mandates on Florida’s local governments and analysis of individual municipal pension plans. The Tough Choices research series is made possible by funding from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. All released series reports can be found on the Institute’s website, The full Report Card can be found at this link


About the LeRoy Collins Institute: Established in 1988, the LeRoy Collins Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit organization which studies and promotes creative solutions to key private and public issues facing the people of Florida and the nation. The Institute, located in Tallahassee at Florida State University, is affiliated and works in collaboration with the State University System of Florida. Named in honor of former Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, the Institute is governed by a distinguished board of directors, chaired by Allison DeFoor, D.Min. Other board members include executives, local elected officials, and senior professionals from throughout the state.

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