New COLAs Adopted By All Local Retirement Boards

Entering Their Third Decade of Increases

SEPTEMBER 2019: Not to be outdone by the state and teachers’ retirement systems, all 102 local retirement boards adopted a new COLA beginning this July. If you retired from a local system before July 1, 2018, then you will see an increase in your monthly direct deposit or check.

Local boards are currently in the third decade of adopting such increases. They’ve been able to do so since 1997 when our landmark legislation, Chapter 17, was enacted.

And all local boards paid a 3% COLA, except for two – the Andover and Franklin Regional Retirement Boards who adopted the CPI-W 2.8% increase. While the Andover Board’s two elected members, Elena Kothman and Jim Cuticchia, sought a full 3%, the majority would not agree. Franklin Regional also applied the CPI-W but has been maintaining a $17,000 COLA Base since FY18.

While there was almost universal acceptance of the 3% COLA, the accompanying chart (on pages 4 and 5) shows that the maximum amount of pension (Maximum Base) to which the percent is applied ranges from $12,000 to $18,000. “That’s because in 2010 Mass Retirees succeeded in having local option legislation enacted that authorized local retirement systems

to raise their Maximum COLA Base above $12,000,” according to Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel. “With this legislation on the books, local systems began to raise their Maximum Base. And as we predicted, they continue to implement the law today. 

“Since our last Local COLA report one year ago (September 2018 Voice), we’re pleased to announce that 10 Boards have increased their Maximum Base effective this July. Here they are.”

  • Haverhill and Woburn went from a $12,000 base to $13,000.
  • Mass Water Resource Authority and Quincy increased from $13,000 to $14,000.
  • Greater Lawrence Sanitary District went from $12,000 to $15,000.
  • Mass Housing Finance Agency increased from $13,000 to $15,000.
  • Middlesex and Plymouth Counties increased from $14,000 to $16,000.
  • Methuen and Wellesley both went from $16,000 to $17,000.