Board transfers $150 million to MERS employees

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By Matthew Pizzo
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

The Ingham County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution recognizing college application week and approved the transfer of $1.5 million dollars to 34 Lansing employees who transferred to the Ingham County 911 center to cover its pensions.

District 3 Commissioner Sarah Anthony said that three Lansing schools: Everett, Eastern and Sexton participated in college application week Nov. 4 to 8.

Anthony said the week is a national movement that encourages first-generation college students and low-income families to apply to at least one college.

Anthony said that during the week many of the colleges and universities will waive their application fees.

“You see a cap and gown on our county seal.” Anthony said. “We need to make sure we not only have these amazing higher education institutions but also have a higher educated work force in our country.”

The commissioners also passed a resolution to transfer 1.5 million dollars to MERS, the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System, for 34 911 employees who transferred from the city of Lansing on July 1, 2012 as part of consolidation efforts.

According to its website, MERS is a public non-profit organization of Michigan that serves municipalities and its employees all across the state.

“This resolution will basically allow the county to temporarily fund the liability as we estimate it,” District 9 Commissioner Carol Koenig said. “The impacted employees can have their retirement rightfully established and funded at MERS.”

“Otherwise, if we don’t move forward with this and pay ourselves back once we we hopefully resolve this with the city these employees may not have an account established until who knows when at this point,” Koenig said.

Several commissioners were upset with the city of Lansing and the situation they were placed in.

“This is not a temporary solution, I think that most of us feel deeply that it won’t be resolved,” District 13 Commissioner Randy Schaffer said. “It will be something that will be swept under the carpet till it goes away so the county’s going to be on the hook for trying to do the right thing and consolidating 911 centers and indeed saving money across the board.”

District 8 Commissioner Don Vickers said that he would urge the county controller to set a timeline of one month to reimburse the county for at least $1 million dollars and to file a suit against the city against the city if it’s not done within that timeline.

“I’m voting yes because of the employees, certainly not because of the city administration,” Vickers said.

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