Retirement board meeting minutes online
May 15, 2013, updated June 30, 2013

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As a service to the media, city officials and Lansing citizens, I've posted on this website the board meeting minutes of Lansing's two retirement systems: the Police and Fire Retirement System and the Employees Retirement System (ERS). Minutes are available here only for meetings going back to January 2010, however.

I have also posted the actuarial valuations for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011.

To see these documents, click Directory above, then, under City of Lansing, click Retirement Systems and Pensions.

Retirement board meeting minutes are available on the city clerk's website under Documents Placed on File. However, they are not presented in nearly as convenient a manner as they are here. Once a month, a link to "Board and Authority Minutes" is added. The document linked to is a PDF file that starts with a cover letter from the clerk to the city council listing the meetings included, followed by the actual meeting minutes. You have to scroll through the minutes for several "boards and authorities" to find the ones desired, and then if you want print them, you have to figure out what pages of the document they are on and print only those pages. Only about a year's worth of minutes are available on the site.

You might have to wait as long as 2 months for minutes to be posted on the Clerk's site. For example, the minutes for the April 14 meeting of the Police and Fire Retirement Board were not posted until June 14. To make matters worse, some meeting minutes never do get posted. There apparently is no mechanism to make sure that they do.

It's not that the City doesn't know how to provide efficient access to meeting minutes. City Council meeting minutes for the current year are readily available. Past years, not so much. Although there is a place to enter the year to get the minutes for past years, it doesn't work. And the search function doesn't work well. The word "bombing" appears in the April 15, 2013 minutes, but when I search for "bombing", I get only the minutes for January 11, 2010 and February 13, 2006.

My retirement board meeting minutes are not searchable, either. Like the city council meeting minutes, they are PDF files, but unlike the city council meeting minutes, they are images created by scanning hard copies of the minutes page by page, and therefore not searchable. If they had been created from the word processing program used to type up the minutes, they would be searchable. Microsoft Word allows you to "save as" PDF, as do (I assume) other modern word processing programs. What this means is that retirement board meeting minutes could be posted to the City website as searchable PDF files.

Here is what the Open Meetings Act says about meeting minutes:

Except for minutes taken during a closed session, all minutes are considered public records, open for public inspection, and must be available for review as well as copying at the address designated on the public notice for the meeting. Proposed minutes must be available for public inspection within 8 business days after a meeting. Approved minutes must be available within 5 business days after the meeting at which they were approved.

More retirement system information coming. Senate Bill 797, an amendment to the Public Employee Retirement System Act passed in November and signed by Governor Snyder on December 5, requires the City to post a lot more information about its retirement systems on its website. Unfortunately, retirement board meeting minutes are not among the items required to be published. Here is what is required:

  • The name of the system.

  • The names of the systemís investment fiduciaries.

  • The names of the systemís service providers.

  • The systemís assets and liabilities and changes in net plan assets on a plan-year basis.

  • The systemís funded ratio based upon the ratio of valuation assets to actuarial accrued liabilities on a plan-year basis.

  • The systemís investment performance net of fees on a rolling calendar-year basis for the previous 1-, 3-, 5-, 7-, and 10-year periods.

  • The systemís administrative and investment expenditures pursuant to standards of the governmental accounting standards board, including, but not limited to, a list of all expenditures made with soft dollars and all expenditures for professional training and education, including travel expenditures, by or on behalf of system board members that are paid by the system, if any.

  • The systemís itemized budget containing all projected expenditures, including, but not limited to, expenditures for professional training and education, including travel expenditures, by or on behalf of system board members that are paid by the system.

  • The following information as provided in the systemís most recent annual actuarial valuation report:

  • The number of active members.

  • The number of retirees and beneficiaries.

  • The average annual retirement allowance.

  • The total annual retirement allowances being paid.

  • The valuation payroll.

  • The employerís computed normal cost of benefits expressed as a percentage of valuation payroll.

  • The employerís total contribution rate expressed as a percentage of valuation payroll.

  • The weighted average of member contributions, if any.

  • The actuarial assumed rate of investment return.

  • The actuarial assumed rate of long-term wage inflation.

  • The smoothing method utilized to determine the funding value of assets.

  • The amortization method and period utilized for funding the systemís unfunded actuarial accrued liabilities, if any.

  • The systemís actuarial cost method.

  • Whether system membership is open or closed to specific groups of employees.

The law also requires the City to (1) prepare and maintain written objectives, policies, and strategies with clearly defined accountability and responsibility for implementing and executing the retirement systemís investments and (2) prepare and maintain written policies regarding ethics and professional training and education, including travel, which policies contain clearly defined accountability and reporting requirements for the systemís investment fiduciaries. As with the retirement board meeting minutes, these items do not have to be published on the website.

This is the same law that prohibits the City from releasing details of retirees' pensions.