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April 20, 2014

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GOVERNMENT WORKERS:

State pension plan collecting good earnings but employees to kick in more

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Dana Bilyeu, executive officer of the Public Employees’ Retirement System, testifies before a Senate Committee on Finance meeting Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 during the 2013 legislative session in Carson City.

2013 Legislative Session - Day 4

Members of the media cover an Assembly floor session Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 during the 2013 legislative session in Carson City. Launch slideshow »
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Senators Debbie Smith, left and Joyce Woodhouse listen to testimony during a meeting of the Senate Committee on Finance Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 during the 2013 legislative session in Carson City.

CARSON CITY — The pension system that covers an estimated 99,000 active employees in state and local governments and school districts is showing a good return on its investments — but still, workers will be kicking in a little more come July.

Dana Bilyeu, executive officer of the Nevada Public Employees' Retirement System, said the fund had a 9.1 percent return for the first seven months of this fiscal year. For the last three years, the return has averaged 8.6 percent, she told the Senate Finance Committee Thursday.

Employees and the governments split the monthly premiums. And effective July 1, the piece of the premium pie paid by general employees will increase to 25.75 percent from the present 23.75 percent — an increase of $488 a year for the average active member of the plan who makes $48,808 a year. The premium for police and firefighters will go from 39.75 percent to 40.5 percent, or an increase of $616 based on an average annual pay of $72,523.

General employees will pay 12.8 percent of their wages toward their pension; and police and fire members, 20.25 percent of their wages.

The increase, Bilyeu said is due to the declining number of public employees, which has fallen from 106,000 to 99,000.

Representatives of public employee groups praised the operation of the system. Ron Dreher of the Peace Officers Research Association called it one of the best systems in the nation and added he did not think a premium increase would be needed in 2014 because of its investment success.

Bilyeu told the committee the system suffered a 15.8 percent drop in its investments in 2009 during the recession but has recovered. Most funds were down 26 percent on their investments in that year, she said

The system reported the average monthly benefit for a regular employee is $2,603 and it is $4,487 for police and firemen.

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  1. When will employes of Las Vegas (city), Clark County, and the school district start paying part of the PERS costs?