School pension costs to rise 8%

A student takes notes in his math class A student takes notes in his math class on May 1, 2013. Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

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ALBANY -- School pension costs will increase nearly 8 percent next year, continuing a steady climb since the stock market meltdown.

The state Teachers Retirement System, which manages the pension fund for retired teachers and school administrators, notified districts that each will have to pay a rate of about 17.53 percent of every pension dollar paid for the 2014-15 fiscal year. That's up from the current rate of 16.25 percent.

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The hike was expected: the retirement system warned districts last fall that the 2014-15 rate would be between 17.25 percent and 17.75 percent. The increase means taxpayers will be on the hook for $187 million more in teacher-retirement costs statewide, according to an analysis by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, an anti-tax group.

The rate has been climbing steadily since 2009-10, when it was 6.19 percent.

In a newsletter sent to school administrators this month, system officials said the fund was still feeling the impact of the stock market meltdown, but that might end next year.

"The phasing-in of investment return attributable to the Great Recession in '08-'09 continues to be the reason for the increase" in the pension contribution employers must make, the newsletter said. "This is the last year in which" fund losses from 2008 will be incorporated in setting the employer-contribution rate.

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