JAN 2007 - Local government retirement boards have until July 1st to vote for a July 2007 COLA for their retirees and survivors. Most boards wait until sometime after the first of the year to vote on the July 1st COLA, a few even waiting until June to vote.

But, there are a small number of boards that traditionally vote before Christmas, sort of a message to their retirees that they’re thinking of them even though the increase won’t take place until July.

The first Board to vote is usually Newton, Plymouth County, Bristol County or Medford. But this year the winner of the first-board-to-vote contest was a complete surprise - Wellesley.

And, not only was Wellesley the first board to vote, it was the earliest any board had ever voted - October 25. On October 15 the Bureau of Labor Statistics had released its consumer price index (CPI) of 3.3% for the previous 12 months ending September 30. This is the same 12-month index that Social Security uses for its January increases. This January’s SS increase will be 3.3%.

Since our COLA is limited to 3%, this is the figure that all boards will be voting on. The state and teacher retirees’ COLA will be voted by the Legislature and Governor in the FY’08 state budget. Boards have the option of voting for 3% or a lower figure if the CPI is less than 3%. Our July ’07 COLA will only be the third time in nine years that the CPI has been above 3%. Most boards have voted for 3% in the six years the CPI was lower than that figure.

“We had read in the newspaper that the CPI was 3.3% and decided to vote on 3% at our October 25 meeting,” said Wellesley Retirement Board Administrator, Laurie Lizak. “The vote was 5-0.”

Wellesley’s Retirement Board consists of Dick Gerard, Derek Knight, Chairman David Kornwitz, Sheryl Strother and Joan Donahue.