Friday, May 03, 2013

Stoffa Praises NorCo Pension Success

Municipal pensions have become the mother of all budget busters. This monster is the reason for Allentown's unpopular water lease. It's the reason for Easton's commuter tax. And in Bethlehem, it has gobbled the annual casino host fee and still wants more. But in Northampton County, it's a different story.

In his report to County Council last night, Executive John Stoffa noted that the pensions has grown from $161 million in 2009, to over $302 million as of last Friday. This success has made a cost of living increase possible for retired County employees.

Stoffa credits investment consultant Pierce Park as the reason for the pension's success, and expressed hope that the new Executive will use this company as well.

In other business, Director of Human Services Ross Marcus told Council that a contemplated bond issue, designed primarily for bridge repairs, will also feature improvements to the County's nursing home, Gracedale.

Priority will be given to a new emergency generator system, advises Marcus. That system failed during last year's hurricane. "We need to do a better job of being ready," remarked Marcus.

This bond will be limited. "We are not going to be able to do all the capital improvements [at Gracedale] we would like to do," said Marcus, explaining it will take several years

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

no major accomplishment. The Dow index went from 6626 on 3/6/2009 to 14,712 last week or a 122% increase. The S and P 500 index rose 133% over a same period. An idiot with no market knowledge could have easily earned a return of 87%. I would be looking for someone who doubled that number or greatly exceeded the two indexes to be impressed.

Anonymous said...

The fund went into the shitter on his watch. It still isn't back to where it was when Stoffa took over (100%).
Let's stop the nonsense about Stoffa. He squandered more than 60 million in taxpayers dollars by not watching the swaption, he ran Gracedale into the hole and is now asking for Bond money to make capital improvements that he should have been doing without the need to borrow funds, and you still protect him like he was some kind of financial genius. He is a poor executive but an honest guy that is in this business way over his head.

Anonymous said...

John has previously stated a disbelief in the powerful effect of global markets on NorCo. He's proposed fiscal belt tightening one week, and breathtaking debt spending the next. John's a really nice fellow. But he's a fiscal birdbrain. It's better to be lucky than good, however. John gets no credit for this.

Anonymous said...

You two are so consumed with hate. You would complain if John Stoffa walked on water! "Why didn't he dance on water!"

It is a waste to time responding to you. Go get help! Please.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"no major accomplishment"

Top 19% of all public pensions is no major accomplishment. Maybe the county should hire you.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean we now have money for $186,000 parking spaces for county employees?

You did it, John!

Anonymous said...

Completely OT Bernie but congratulations on winning the Morning Call blogging award for politics!

Between you and Molovinsky winning both Geeting and He Who Shall Not Be Named must be rolling on the floor foaming at the mouth.

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

I had no idea. I'll have to go check. Thanks for letting me know.

Anonymous said...

MC website this morning.

http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-morning-call-best-of-lehigh-valley-blogs-20130502,0,877035.story

Bernie O'Hare said...

Looks like they had some sort of ceremony. I was unaware of it. I likely would have gone had I known.

Anonymous said...

BOH 9:07 It;s like getting an F on an exam and finding that you are the highest grade in the class. I did beat out everyone else. so who cares if I failed. Should we be proud? Hell no! No major ccomplishment!!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I agree it does not mean much, but I still like it bc it upsets people like you.

Anonymous said...

The rate of return does not upset me. In fact, the rate of return is not bad. I don't think that the conclusion by Stoffa that the investment adviser is solely responsible for the return is correct. The markets have turned around in three years and any half decent investment manager should have been able to demonstrate a decent record. In the pension fund universe you will find funds that are conservative in approach. That means that the 2008 crash would not have adversely impacted conservative fund managers as much as others. Rates of return for conservatively managed funds for the past three years would have not been as great as funds that chose riskier, higher return investments. The comparison and the conclusion are my problem and I, too, like honesty in figures and government. A better figure would be the return for a five year period. That would average out all investor types. Note that such a number was not given but is readily available.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am sorry, but it was a 5-year period. The county pension has been in the top 19% for the past 5 years. I went back and looked at my notes.

Anonymous said...

I'll take back what I said then because such a return is very strong. My prior statement of why the five year is important is the following median returns that were posted for all public pension funds at the end of 2012. 1 year median returns were 16.8%, 3 year median returns were 9.5% and 5 year median returns were 2.3%. As you can see the fall off between 3 year and five year performance is substantial and that is why the conclusion based on three year (in error) returns caught my eye. I don't hate anyone or am upset with anyone. I thought that the conclusions were not right for a three year performance record. You have corrected that number.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I defer to your knowledge, which is far superior to mine.

Anonymous said...

The retirement account is in the hands of Pierce Park, financial advisor for Northampton County Retirement Board. Prior to Pierce Park, it was C.S.McKee. For the same period, the losses under C.S.McKee would have been greater than the fall of 2009. Under Pierce Park they were less because the fund was more diversified and mor conservative. The same goes for the gains. The gains could have been slightly higher however, more agressive and somewhat volatile investments would have occured and you could be setting yourself up for another 2009. The Board did the right thing by diversifying and going conservative. You failed to mention that Northampton County has been the top performer in this area for the last five years out of all the Counties in Pennsylvania. It should also be noted, they do not give donations to political campaigns. They are straight shooters and do not play politics.

Anonymous said...

Pierce Park also has Lehigh county activity. Allentown for one. They have been building a good reputation. When advisors stay out of political donations the results show.

No organization providing services to public entities should make political contributions to those entities.

Anonymous said...

Callahan will change that. No pay, no play.

RS said...

Remember when PA had so much money back around 2000 that they gave the teachers a 25% raise and the legislators a 50% raise? We were assured that there was plenty of money.

If a cost of living raise is not in the contract for retirees, it is throwing money away and stealing from the future.

Anonymous said...

if the pension is in great shape why is callohoooon going to mess with it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Who said he is? Some anonymous coward?