Georgia County Government - July/August 2012 - (Page 7)

Director’sDesk Counties Need Retirement Program Partners, Not Providers By Ross King Executive Director ne of the largest line items in most county government budget s is a l most a lways personnel. This situation results from the fact that many county responsibilities are service-oriented, requiring people to fulfill diverse tasks. In addition to the actual wage or salary paid to each individual, employee costs also include mandatory Medicare and Social Security payments as well as optional insurance and retirement benefits that a jurisdiction may choose to offer its employees. When it comes to retirement services, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) offers customized retirement programs for counties and other local government entities through the Government Employee Benefits Corporation, or GEBCorp. According to GEBCorp, the key to the successful management of employee retirement programs is three-fold: 1) designing retirement offerings with clear goals in mind for both the jurisdiction and individual employees; 2) clearly communicating the importance of retirement planning to employees; and 3) monitoring the program and measuring its success in meeting the established goals. County commissioners ser ve as the policy-setting authority for county government. This means t hat t he elected officials make decisions regarding which, if any, retirement services to offer. In many jurisdictions, however, retirement programs were established decades ago under previous leadership and have not had thorough examination by those elected officials currently serving to understand the program’s offerings and goals. Before making any changes, it is important to understand O the county’s retirement program history and philosophy. Gone are the days when a county could have a “set it and forget it” kind of approach to retirement program design. County officials must decide how much retirement income the county’s program should provide as a commitment to the county’s employees and what, if any, contributions the individual should make towards his or her own retirement. Once these and other factors are determined, retirement partners like GEBCorp can work with county commissioners to structure a program to appropriately balance the risks and costs of program options. In recent years, many counties have had to make modifications to their employee retirement programs as a result of declining budgets. For counties using ACCG’s retirement services, the GEBCorp management team - comprised of Director Steve Vaughn and Deputy Director Sheryl Dallas - has met individually with the county’s elected officials and management staff to outline various options and explain the implications of changes under consideration. If your county is considering a retirement program change, it is extremely important to schedule a consultation to ensure all options have been explored and that the long term effects of changes are  understood. Once the county’s retirement program goals are clearly established, they should be regularly communicated to employees. All too often, employees make decisions regarding their retirement investments at the time of hire and do not regularly review their investment performance or establish personal retirement goals. They do not give consideration to their personal retirement readiness, which refers to the degree to which an individual is on target to meet his or her retirement goals in order to maintain a chosen standard of living after retirement. Retirement planning should focus on retirement readiness with county employees at all stages of their career. Counties can assist in this effort by allowing retirement partners to regularly interact with employees in one-on-one or group settings. GEBCorp regional representatives are licensed and certified retirement professionals who travel the state working with current employees as well as retirees to manage their retirement. Counties should take advantage of the knowledge of these retirement professionals and work to create opportunities for employees to prepare for their retirement. Monitoring the retirement program’s success in achieving the policy’s goals is also important. Are county employees contributing the recommended amount to the program? Do they understand the value of long-term investing? Are they on track to be retirement-ready? These are all important questions that GEBCorp can help to assess. Through GEBCorp, ACCG wants to be your county’s retirement partner. GEBCorp currently serves more than 148 jurisdictions throughout the state, offering a competitive and inclusive program that focuses on individual and county participation. GEBCorp’s strength lies in its specialization in local government retirement services, its ability to understand and help to establish retirement program goals and its accessibility to employees through regional service representatives. Let this valued ACCG program help your county chart a course to meet its retirement program goals  today. ■ JULY/AUGUST 2012 7

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - July/August 2012

President’s Message
Director’s Desk
Henry County: Building Bridges to Benefit One Henry
Piedmont Henry Hospital Adds Important Healthcare Component to One Henry
Five Georgia Events that Changed History
Performance Contracting: A Creative Solution
Energy Savings Performance Contracts: Risks and Rewards for Local Governments
Georgia Legacy: Making the Economic Case for Land Conservation
Extension News: The Impact of Weatherization Programs in Georgia
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - July/August 2012