Firefighters Pension Fund Discussions Move to City Hall
Deerfield Beach’s Mitigation Operations Center was designed to be a locus of emergency resources during a natural disaster. What took place Friday on the second floor of the massive bunker built to withstand the strongest of hurricanes, however, hints that the Fire Station #102 might prove a nucleus of financial turmoil for the city and its taxpayers.
Friday marked a bi-monthly meeting of the City of Deerfield Beach Municipal Firefighters Pension Fund. The group gathers regularly to discuss accounting procedures, investment strategies and anticipated returns on a $72 million investment portfolio. That portfolio must grow fast enough to cover lifelong pensions for a stream of firefighters working 20 years and retiring at 55, for example. One of those firefighters might expect $50,000 a year for decades, and insurance experts have determined the portfolio of stocks, bonds and –possibly-- a limited partnership- must grow 7.625 percent every year.
It was Anthony Dispenseri, an ACCOUNTANT representing city interests, who pointed out the fallacy of those expectations. At a time when inflation, the benchmark of reasonable increases, is just over 1 percent, writing in a yield of 7 percent might be a bit unrealistic, leaving taxpayers to make up any shortfall.
Against that backdrop, the board discussed moving 2 percent of the portfolio into a limited partnership specializing in equipment used to move oil and natural gas.
And they decided to make meetings more accessible and more frequent.
Right now, the pension board meets every other month at 8:30 a.m. on an upper floor of the fire station across from the Cracker Barrel. There, they gather with investment advisors and with mutual fund managers who are wooing their business. Then they vote on how to invest portfolio that dwindled during the downturn from $92 million to $72 million.
With Dispenseri leading the way, however, the group Thursday agreed to meet on the second Thursday of every other month, beginning December 12. Instead of meeting at 8:30 a.m. they will meet at 5 p.m. And they will move the meeting from the fire station to city hall, at 150 N.E. Second Avenue.
“That’s better because you have microphones, and a person recording the proceedings and you can sit in my seat,” said Robb.