Montague sets highest-ever at $30,000

October was a busy month in western Massachusetts with two communities increasing their COLA base for retirees.

First at a special town meeting in Montague in early October a record-setting $30,000 COLA base was unanimously approved. This means the Montague’s municipal retirees will now be eligible to receive a maximum COLA of $900 annually – a COLA that is cumulative and becomes a permanent part of a retiree’s pension. The base will effective July 1, 2024.

This is not the first time that Montague has led the way on COLA policy. In 2011, Montague was the first system to approve an $18,000 base. At that time the COLA base had been $12,000 for all retirement systems. Along with the unanimous support at town meeting, the measure was supported by the Select Board after a presentation done by the Retirement Board.

The system’s current funding ratio is 87%, and this increase extends the funding schedule, which currently ends in FY30, by 2 years. The Montague Retirement System is now scheduled to be fully funded in 2032.

In late October the City Council in Greenfield approved a measure to increase the COLA base from $14,000 to $16,000. This represents approximately a 14% increase, resulting in a maximum COLA of $480 annually.

The Greenfield Retirement Board felt that due to unprecedented interest rates, the system is in a favorable position in its funding schedule (due to be fully funded in 2035), and therefore voted to provide an increase in the COLA base amount to retirees. This is only the second COLA base increase in more than a decade and will not impact the City’s current funding schedule.

“We applaud the Montague and Greenfield Retirement Boards, on which Association member Marianne Fiske jointly serves, elected officials, and town meeting members as they continue to honor the commitment to their municipal retirees by ensuring that the retirement system is properly funded and that those funds are used for the intended purpose – helping retirees,” notes Association President Frank Valeri.

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