Tube City Almanac

February 04, 2010

City Switches Pension Plans; New Police Chief, Ass't. Take Oath

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Pension plans for all city employees will be switched from Huntingdon Bank to Pittsburgh-based Hefren-Tillotson in a move officials hope will improve returns and lower costs.

At Wednesday's meeting, council by 6-0 vote approved transferring the defined-benefit retirement plans for police, firefighters and other personnel. Councilwoman Loretta Diggs was absent due to illness.

About 180 retirees are affected but should see no disruption in the distribution of their checks, City Administrator Dennis Pittman says.

. . .

Huntingdon had managed the funds since taking over Cleveland-based Sky Bank. City officials felt the pensions would be better served by using a full-time brokerage, Pittman says.

Seven firms submitted proposals to manage the pension plans. Mayor James Brewster, Controller Ray Malinchak, Solicitor J. Jason Elash, Pittman and representatives of the city's employee unions interviewed representatives of each plan before reaching a "unanimous consensus" to recommend Hefren-Tillotson, Pittman says.

"Not only was it a good interview process, we learned a lot, and I have to compliment everyone who participated," Malinchak says.

. . .

According to the Better Business Bureau of Western Pennsylvania, Hefren-Tillotson has an "A-plus" rating for resolving consumer differences.

The firm, founded in 1948, has 10,000 clients and manages investments worth more than $4 billion, according to a 2009 article in Pittsburgh Quarterly.

Aligned Partners Trust Co., also of Pittsburgh, will serve as trustee for the city's pension funds.

. . .

New Chief, Ass't Sworn In: In other business, about 50 family members and friends of the city's new chief and assistant chief of police came to council chambers last night to see them take their oaths of office.

Bryan Washowich, formerly chief of the detective bureau, has been named police chief, while 20-year city police veteran Tom Greene takes over as assistant chief. They replace Joe Pero and Al Tedesco, who both retired.

"We lost two outstanding public servants, but their opinions weighed heavily on our decision to hire these two men," Brewster says.

"We have talked many, many times in a last four weeks since Al left, and I feel very confident that B.J. and Tom will provide the leadership we need," he says.

Among the first tasks for the department's new command staff is creation of what the mayor described as a comprehensive, city-wide plan to address public safety concerns.

Details will likely be announced in March, Brewster says.

. . .

Salt Bins Ready: The city's salt bins are full in preparation for an expected winter storm this weekend, says Nick Shermenti, public works director.

Of 3,000 tons of salt allotted to the city, 2,200 tons have been used, much of during the last two weeks of December and first two weeks of January, he says.

"If we can get past this weekend, I think we'll be OK," Shermenti says.

The National Weather Service has predicted a total snow accumulation of six to 12 inches in the Mon-Yough area between 12 noon Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.

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