Statewide, the Law Enforcement Plan has 2,662 active contributing members. The plan has 1,274 pensioners, including retirees, disabled retirees, and surviving beneficiaries. The average retiree benefit is $2,220 per month. About three quarters of the membership is in local governments, generally city police departments and county sheriff agencies. About one quarter of the members are State of Wyoming employees, mostly in the Department of Corrections.
Contribution rates in the Law Enforcement Plan have been stable for the past 17 years, with the present 17.20% total contribution rate in place since 7/1/2002 (split 50/50 with an 8.60% employer portion and an 8.60% employee portion).
The Law Enforcement Plan has generally been solidly funded, enabling rates to remain stable. Funding ratios since 2009 are shown below:
As it stands today, the Law Enforcement Plan is at 85.57% funded. Future investment returns are apt to be more modest and retirees are living longer leading to downward pressure on the plan’s funding status. Historically, the Wyoming legislature has been very proactive in ensuring that contributions into the system are adequate to support the conservative benefit structure of the plan. Investment results this current year are looking quite favorable, but responsible stewardship suggests adjustments are still advisable.
The Wyoming Retirement System (WRS) Board has received information from the system actuaries indicating that rate increases are prudent in order to attain funding objectives. (See the Actuarial Slides here.) A 3% increase spread over 3 years is recommended. A draft bill to this effect is working through the necessary steps to become a bill in the upcoming legislative session.
The latest version of the bill would increase just the employee contribution, raising it from the present 8.60% to 11.60% in 1% stages beginning July 1, 2020. Local employers could choose to pick up any portion of this increase, at their discretion. As always, amendments are possible. WRS will post the bill to our website as soon as it is available.
WRS recognizes that any rate increase imposes a financial impact. However, a pension is still one of the most important benefits for employee recruitment and retention, particularly in the public safety area. It is wise to consider adjustments while the plan is still well-funded.
The Board appreciates the support of members and employers and we are always available should you have any questions. Although the legislative session will not start until February 10, 2020, the Board wanted to get preliminary information out to employers.
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our employer relations team at 307-777-2077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.