Board of Trustees votes to authorize 1.5% COLA for July, 2004
At the June 16 meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Firefighters' Pension Fund, the Board voted to grant a cost of living allowance (COLA) increase of 1.5% in pension benefits, effective July 1, 2004 and payable July 31, 2004 . With this increase, the full retirement benefit, (with no options,) will increase to $788 per month from $776. The standard early retirement benefit, (with no options,) will increase to $331 from $326. The Class 9 full retirement benefit will increase to $176. This is the third consecutive full COLA increase authorized by the Board since foregoing increases in 2002 and early 2003.
When considering whether to authorize an increase, the members of the Board considered the performance of the assets in the capital markets, the trend of insurance premium tax receipts, the growth and demographic profile of the membership and the current trend in retirements. They are assisted in these deliberations by the Fund's actuary, Mellon Associates, (formerly Buck Consulting.) Good capital market performance early in the year, coupled with above trend line tax receipts and prudent expense control have enabled the Fund to afford the maximum increase allowable under the statute. We are quite pleased that our retirees have now received increases amounting to 3% over the last 12 months while the CPI, as reported for the Southeast, has been growing at only 2%, (notwithstanding the recent rise in energy prices.)
This single feature, cost of living increases offered and granted when prudent and financially sound to the Fund, makes the Georgia Firefighters' Pension Fund one of the best supplemental pension plans available to firefighters in the United States and certainly the most cost effective.