SamCERA Times Spring 2016
Active Member Edition
Inside This Issue
SamCERA will hold elections this spring for a General member seat on the Board of Retirement.
General Member Third Position Seat: Candidates must be active SamCERA General members. Each candidate for the general member position shall be nominated by a petition signed by not less than ten (10) active general members. The elected third position general member will serve from July 2016 through June 2019.
Required Declarations of Candidacy: These forms will be available and can be circulated beginning Monday, April 18, 2016, through Monday, May 2, 2016. Qualified candidates must obtain Declarations of Candidacy in person at the County Elections Office, 40 Tower Rd., in San Mateo.
Completed Declarations of Candidacy: These completed forms must be filed in person with the County Elections Office no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 2, 2016.
Please call the Elections Office at (650) 312-5222, if you have any questions or wish to make an appointment to take out candidacy papers.
Elections: The election will be held on Monday, June 13, 2016. The elections are conducted in accordance with SamCERA’s Board regulations. These regulations are available at the Elections Office, or on SamCERA’s website at: www.samcera.org.
This year’s Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) will be either 2.0% and 2.5%. So if you’re thinking about retiring soon and would like to take advantage of the COLA, don’t delay. Get in touch with SamCERA now.
The COLA applies to eligible retirees and beneficiaries retired on or before April 1, 2016, and the amount of the COLA will depend on the retirement plan. The COLA for Plan 1 and Plan 2 is 2.5%, while the COLA for Plans 4, 5, 6 and 7 is 2.0%. Plan 3 does not provide a COLA.
The COLA amount will be added to the base retirement amount, boosting the total monthly benefit. All COLAs will be paid beginning with the April 2016 benefit payments.
If you’re considering retirement this year, now is the time to get started. It takes time to process retirement applications. So if you want to retire before April of this year, contact SamCERA right away.
(Please note that if you are among the small percentage of SamCERA members in Plan 3, your plan provisions do not provide for a COLA.)
How is COLA calculated?
SamCERA’s COLAs are calculated according to California law, which requires them to be based on the change in the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area (as determined by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics). The law also requires the amount to be rounded to the nearest one-half of one percent. This year, since the index increased 2.61%, the nearest one-half of one percent is 2.5%. The maximum allowable COLA for Plans 4, 5, 6 and 7 is always 2.0%. These COLA amounts are validated by SamCERA’s actuarial firm, Milliman, Inc.
Remember, annual COLAs can increase or decrease depending on whether the Bay Area experiences inflation or deflation, but your pension will never go below the basic benefit allowance you received when you retired.
Are you thinking of retiring within the year? If so, then make plans to attend a “Ready to Retire” workshop. We’ll discuss your SamCERA retirement pension options, and the application process.
A representative from the Benefits Department will also give a presentation and answer any questions regarding retiree health benefits. If you are not yet ready to retire but would like to learn more about your retirement, contact SamCERA for a one-on-one meeting.
Ready to Retire Workshop Details
Date: Thursday, July 28, 2016
Time: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Location: 100 Marine Parkway, Suite 160, Redwood City 94065
How to Register
To sign up for this workshop, email SamCERA, at firstname.lastname@example.org to make your request. Please provide the date of the workshop you would like to attend.
SamCERA member accounts earned a total of 7.375% interest last year. This includes 3.75% credited at the end of June, and 3.625% credited at the end of December.
The interest your SamCERA account earns is tied to the performance of the SamCERA investment fund, which was valued at $3.36 billion at the end of 2015.
Gains and losses to the SamCERA investment fund are smoothed out over the long-term to minimize the impact of volatility on the fund and protect the value of member accounts. As a result, interest credited to member accounts may not match the investment fund earnings for a given year, but member accounts are never decreased if investment returns are negative.
Viewing Your Account Balance
You can view your account balance by logging into SamCERA’s Web Member Services portal: https://retire.samcera.org/
Some Details on Your Account Balance
The main use of account balances is for payouts to members who terminate and take a refund of contributions. If you retire and receive a lifetime retirement benefit, your benefit will not be based on your account balance. Your retirement benefit will be based on your years of service, your age at retirement, your final average compensation, and the payment option you select at retirement.
Your account balance will always be equal to your contributions plus the interest credited. Interest is credited twice a year; once on June 30, and again on December 31. In accordance with SamCERA’s interest crediting policy, member accounts will be credited with interest in amounts that are equal to the lesser of: (a) one-half of the annual amount the fund is expected to earn, known as the fund’s “assumed earnings rate;” or (b) the Actuarial Earnings Rate for the prior six-month period, but the rate credited shall not be less than zero. Therefore, no matter what happens to the economy, your account balance will not decrease, and the interest credited to your account bi-annually will not be more than half of the assumed earnings rate.
Additionally, keep in mind that you cannot borrow money from your account at any time, and you cannot withdraw your employer’s contributions under any circumstances. You will benefit from your employer’s contribution only when you retire from SamCERA.
Have you taken one of our money management classes? If not, there’s still time to register for a few of our most popular offerings.
These classes will help you get the knowledge and skills to make smart decisions with your personal finances.
Our Money Series includes the following upcoming classes:
- Investing for the Clueless
- Creating and Managing Wills and Trusts
- Retirement Planning for All Ages
SamCERA works with an outside vendor to offer these classes. Instructors are certified financial professionals who provide ”conflict free” guidance, which means you won’t get a sales pitch for any financial services.
You can register for classes through the LMS “My Personal and Health and Well-Being (Private) Site,” or go to samcera.org/classes for more information—including class listings and step-by-step instructions on how to register.
Earlier this year, the San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District (SMCMVCD) celebrated its 100th year of service to the citizens of San Mateo County. For a full century, the district has worked to protect the county from disease by controlling the mosquito population. You may have even seen them at work in the county’s marshes and waterways in one of their flat-bottom airboats or amphibious vehicles.
(SMCMVCD is one of SamCERA’s three participating employers—along with the County of San Mateo and the Superior Court of the County of San Mateo—so many district employees are also SamCERA members.)
The mosquito control program in San Mateo County is one of the oldest in the United States. Planning for the program was initiated in 1904, when the Burlingame Improvement Club asked scientists from the University of California to assist them in developing a plan to fight the city’s mosquito infestations.
Services began in 1916 with the formation of the Three Cities Mosquito Abatement District, which encompassed San Mateo, Burlingame, and Hillsborough. In the 1950s, that district merged with the Pulgas Mosquito Abatement District to form the San Mateo County Mosquito Abatement District. In 2003, a voter-approved ballot measure created an agency which now provides mosquito abatement services in all cities and unincorporated areas of San Mateo County. Five years later, the District Board of Trustees approved a name change to San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District.
SamCERA offers its best wishes to the staff and Trustees of the district for their continued success and prosperity, and we thank them for their century of hard work.
For the nineteenth consecutive year, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) awarded SamCERA its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. This award was in recognition of SamCERA’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015.
The GFOA established the certificate program in 1945 to encourage state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles. In doing so, the GFOA has established a high standard for financial reporting where government agencies must open their books in the spirit of transparency and full disclosure.
SamCERA takes this duty seriously, and we are committed to meeting the standards set by the GFOA. As a result, we’re confident that we’re providing our members, the public, and other stakeholders with a clear picture of our finances.
Through prudent management of the retirement fund, we believe we’ve earned the trust of our members and the public. And through transparency and full disclosure, we believe that you will come to the same conclusion on your own.
SamCERA’s normal office hours are Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. though 6 p.m. SamCERA is closed every Friday.