HAMLET — Richmond County Schools finance officer Pam Satterfield said the Government Accounting Standards Board’s pension reporting changes will not affect local school district employees.
The GASB exists to “establish and improve standards of accounting and financial reporting for state and local government,” and now requires local government agencies to report their share of unfunded pensions as a liability on their balance sheets. The change takes effect in fiscal year 2014.
Mac Steagall, finance officer for Richmond County government, said the changes in reporting will not be reflected until the next audit by June 30, 2015 — the end of the current fiscal year. He said that the changes only apply to the way retirement is defined but should not affect individuals in the local government retirement system.
Satterfield offered a down-to-earth definition of what the GASB requirements mean for ordinary people.
“What GASB is doing is just changing how they (governments) report,” she said. “It’s going to affect the state treasurer’s office because they control the retirement system. That function is handled by a division of the state treasurer’s office.”
Satterfield said that the state employee’s retirement system is a defined benefit plan, meaning that no matter what a member contributes to the system during his or her career, even once that runs out, he or she will continue to receive the same retirement benefits until death.
Currently, the school system contributes 15.21 percent for its employees, and each employee contributes a minimum of 6 percent to the retirement system. The GASB reporting measure will not change any of that.
While other states’ public employee pensions are underfunded, North Carolina’s ranks second-best in the nation, according to a Civitas Media analysis of recently reported figures.
Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-817-2673 or follow her on Twitter @melonieflomer.