Dedham Approves $15,000 COLA Base

July 2015 Voice: For the second time around, Dedham has increased its COLA Base. First, they went from $12,000 to $13,000 in 2014.

Then at the May Town Meeting, an article, recommended by both the Finance and Warrant Committees, was presented that would raise the Base to $15,000. It prompted a spirited debate.

Among those stepping to the microphone in support of the increase was Selectman Jim McDonald. He said many retirees were living on fixed income and the town should take care of its retired employees who had given a lot to the town.

“Our Retirement Board had done its homework and was prepared to argue in support of the Base increase,” states Board Administrator Lynn Carley. “It paid off and the Town Meeting members voted overwhelmingly to approve raising the Base to $15,000.”

According to Carley, there are 236 retirees who will benefit from the increase, beginning this July 1. With the two increases in the Base, the maximum COLA benefit has been upped by 25%.

“Dedham stands as another example of a local retirement system that gets it and is doing the right thing by its retirees, survivors and taxpayers,” comments Association President Frank Valeri. “They’ve been able to increase their funding level from 71.9% to 80.2% in two years (Jan 2012 to Jan 2014).

“And because of that, Dedham can shorten its funding schedule from 2034 to 2024. But they didn’t stop there, and looked to help the system’s beneficiaries, namely the retirees and survivors, with an improved COLA benefit.”

Ed Note: When it comes to survivors, Dedham has adopted both local option laws, sponsored by our Association, that increase the minimum pensions for the widows of disability retirees, who could not select a survivor’s pension, to $12,000 and for the surviving spouses of employees, who die while still working, to $6,000.

“Like Easthampton (which as we reported had recently adopted a $14,000 Base), Dedham has sought to achieve the proper balance as fiduciaries – sustaining a well-funded system while improving benefits to its members. We hope that others will follow.”