Municipal Ratification of Benefit Levels and Interest Rates
Many relief associations review their finances in the summer, after completing their annual Schedule Form, and determine whether to seek a change to their benefit levels.
As a reminder, a relief association initiates a change in benefit levels by amending its bylaws. A city council or town board can choose to approve or not approve a relief association’s proposed benefit change. Once the bylaws are ratified by the governing body, however, the benefit levels are guaranteed by the municipality.
In approving benefit levels, the city council or town board assumes responsibility for ensuring the relief association special fund has sufficient assets to cover approved benefit levels.
The OSA knows of no authority for a city council or town board to ratify a relief association benefit level while simultaneously limiting any future contributions to the relief association to amounts less than those required by Minnesota law. Minnesota law is clear that a municipality is required to make any contributions that become due to the relief association at the approved benefit level.
For more information regarding the process for changing relief association benefit levels, please see the OSA’s Statement of Position on this topic.
Interest rates set by a relief association’s board of trustees become payable beginning on January 1 following the date on which the rate was ratified by the municipality or independent nonprofit firefighting corporation. For example, a relief association’s board of trustees sets an interest rate of three percent on December 15, 2023. The affiliated city council ratifies the interest rate at its council meeting on January 20, 2024. The interest rate will become effective on January 1, 2025. Relief associations that credit interest to deferred members should keep this timing in mind when setting interest rates and seeking municipal ratification of the rates.
Published last in the July 2023 Pension Newsletter