2016 and 2017 News & Updates

 

News Update - August 30, 2017

 

HMEPS Check Update

 

 

News Update - May 31, 2017

 

 

 

News Update - May 24, 2017

 

HMEPS Statement on the Texas Legislature’s Passage of Houston Pension Legislation

 

News Update - May 18, 2017

 

Legislative Update and Summary of Benefit and Contribution Changes

 

 

It is important that you use accurate information for your decision-making.  There have been many articles in the media about contemplated changes to various police and fire pension systems in the state, which do not affect HMEPS or its members.  We strongly recommend that you read the summary of the proposed benefit and employee contribution changes in the December 2016 Pension Press, which also addresses many of the questions participants have been asking about the changes.  If you have a question that is not addressed in the Pension Press article, you should contact HMEPS for more information.

 

A few things that are not changing:

 

 

 

 

News Update - May 8, 2017

 

Legislative Update on SB 2190 - Houston Pension Reform Bill

 

Today the Texas House of Representatives took up SB 2190, the Houston pension reform bill. SB 2190 was substituted for HB 43 and passed out of the House this afternoon.  The bill will now go to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the Senate version and the House version of SB 2190.

 

We will keep you updated as the bill continues to progress.

 

 

News Update - May 2, 2017

 

Senate passage of SB 2190

 

The Houston Chronicle reported yesterday’s passage of amended SB 2190 (Houston bill) by the Texas Senate.  The bill now moves to the Texas House of Representatives where we will monitor its movement.  SB 2190 contains a trigger for potential implementation of a separate cash balance retirement plan for new employees hired in or after 2027.

 

Now attention turns to the companion bill, HB 43 by Rep. Flynn.  HMEPS is currently working with House members on that bill and we will keep you updated.

 

 

News Update - April 28, 2017

 

Thank you to the many members who recently contacted Representatives on the House Calendars Committee regarding HB 43.  For those of you who made the call or sent an email, we were notified that your voices were clearly heard in Austin.

 

Yesterday, as part of the Texas Legislature’s 85th Regular Session, the State Affairs Committee of the Texas Senate met to consider Senate Bill 2190, authored by committee chairwoman Joan Huffman (R-Houston), which deals with City of Houston employee pensions and would directly affect HMEPS.

 

As you may know, HMEPS has been working diligently with Mayor Sylvester Turner over the last year toward a pension reform package for consideration by the Legislature. Yesterday’s Senate committee hearing was the first consideration of SB 2190, which was approved by the State Affairs Committee. It will move on for consideration by the full Senate.

 

Sherry Mose, HMEPS Chairman of the Board of Trustees, traveled with staff to yesterday’s Senate hearing, and spoke on behalf of our participants. Chairman Mose spoke in support of the reform structure advocated by Mayor Turner, but cautioned that the reform mechanism is untested in the real world and must be carefully monitored. She voiced support for SB 2190, provided pending modifications, and removal of the requirement of a public vote to issue pension obligation bonds.

 

HMEPS takes our responsibility to keep you informed about your retirement benefits very seriously. We have worked hard to achieve reforms that protect HMEPS participants for the long term. The proposed legislation largely reflects the terms of our agreement with the City, but further modifications are needed. As the legislative session reaches its midpoint this week, there is much work yet to do, and you can be assured we will keep you informed regarding important developments.

 

 

News Update - December 21, 2016

 

 

 

News Update - November 17, 2016

 

DROP Interest Rate is 2.5% for Calendar Year 2017

 

The Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) interest rate for calendar year 2017 will be 2.5%, effective January 1, 2017. The rate was approved by the HMEPS Board of Trustees at the November 2016 Board meeting.

 

Several DROP participants have asked how the DROP rate is determined. Under the Meet and Confer Agreement, the DROP interest rate for each calendar year is half (50%) of the HMEPS investment return for the prior fiscal year, with a maximum rate of 7.5% and a minimum rate of 2.5%. The HMEPS investment return for Fiscal Year 2016 was 1.65%, so DROP participants in 2016 will receive 2.5% on their DROP accounts.

 

DROP is an optional retirement method for members who have reached their normal retirement eligibility (age and years of credited service) but do not want to retire. It is an alternative method of accumulating and receiving a pension benefit from HMEPS.  To speak with a benefit counselor to learn more about DROP, please call the HMEPS office at 713-595-0100.

 

 

News Update - October 12, 2016

 

Over the past several months, HMEPS has worked diligently with the Mayor and his administration to secure future funding for the pension plan, and to make changes to the pension plan to continue to provide meaningful benefits for participants.

 

These changes are subject to HMEPS and the City mutually agreeing on funding matters and on implementation of the mutually agreed terms through legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017.  We will keep you updated on this site regarding the status of the negotiations.

 

 

 

News Update - September 15, 2016

 

HMEPS has been working with Mayor Sylvester Turner and his administration to address pension matters in a way that is mutually beneficial to both HMEPS participants and the City of Houston, and that brings about lasting reform for a sustainable retirement system.

 

Thus far, negotiations have resulted in proposed changes that we believe provide competitive benefits and future funding for the pension plan that are reasonable and actuarially sound, and that include stepped up payments to address past underfunding.  The proposed changes will not be final unless and until a Meet and Confer agreement is reached between HMEPS and the City, with the expectation that the agreed provisions will be enacted into law by the Texas Legislature in the 2017 session.

 

We know these negotiations have caused concern among many of you, and we appreciate your continued patience and confidence as we work together toward a sound resolution.  We believe it is important to work with Mayor Turner at the local level to develop a practical and tailored solution that is mutually agreeable rather than having the legislature work one out for us.  We anticipate future adjustments to the COLA, DROP interest rate, member contributions and retiree death benefits, but no changes to eligibility for retirement or DROP, and no retroactive adjustments to earned or accumulated benefits.

 

We remain committed to a defined benefit plan that provides meaningful and competitive benefits with appropriate funding that will strengthen our participants’ financial future for the long term.

 

We are continuing our efforts with the City to develop a final agreement.  Check this site for updates as we will keep you informed on the status of negotiations.

 

 

2016 Fall F.R.E.E. Summit, October 21, 2016

 

Mark your calendars!  HMEPS and the City of Houston Deferred Compensation Plan will hold the 2016 Fall Financial Retirement Employees Educational (F.R.E.E.) Summit on Friday, October 21, 2016.  The F.R.E.E. Summit will be held at the Harris County Department of Education Conference Center, 6300 Irvington, Houston, Texas 77022 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

 

 

HMEPS Chairman and Manager of Policy and Financial Planning Meet with Mayor Turner

 

HMEPS Chairman Sherry Mose and Manager of Policy and Financial Planning Steve Waas, along with the administrators of the Houston Police Officers' Pension System and Houston Firefighters' Relief & Retirement Fund, met with Mayor Turner to discuss pension matters.

 

 

HMEPS Posting Notice of Determination Letter Request to IRS

 

HMEPS is having a notice posted at City locations and on the HMEPS website regarding HMEPS’ application to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a determination letter on the qualification of the HMEPS plan.  Upon application, the IRS issues a so-called "determination letter" that assures that the plan meets the detailed qualification requirements contained in the Internal Revenue Code at the time the letter is issued. The determination letter process is handled by the Employee Plans segment of the IRS's Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division.

 

A favorable determination letter indicates that the plan described in the written plan document meets Internal Revenue Code qualification requirements.  HMEPS last received a favorable determination letter in November 2015.  The IRS has a prescribed timetable for retirement plans to be submitted for an update of their determination letter, and this year is part of the window during which the IRS will accept updated submissions from governmental plans such as HMEPS.  Accordingly, HMEPS is posting the notice as part of the determination letter request process.

 

 

2016 Pension Payment Schedule

 

 

 

DROP Interest Rate is 2.5% for Calendar Year 2016

 

The Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) interest rate for calendar year 2016 will be 2.5%, effective January 1, 2016. The rate was approved by the HMEPS Board of Trustees at the October 2015 Board meeting.

 

Several DROP participants have asked how the DROP rate is determined. Under the Meet and Confer Agreement, the DROP interest rate for each calendar year is half (50%) of the HMEPS investment return for the prior fiscal year, with a maximum rate of 7.5% and a minimum rate of 2.5%. The HMEPS investment return for Fiscal Year 2015 was 3.38% so DROP participants in 2016 will receive 2.5% on their DROP accounts.

 

DROP is an optional retirement method for members who have reached their normal retirement eligibility (age and years of credited service) but do not want to retire. It is an alternative method of accumulating and receiving a pension benefit from HMEPS.  To speak with a benefit counselor to learn more about DROP, please call the HMEPS office at 713-595-0100.

 

 

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Houston Municipal Employees Pension System

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Houston Municipal Employees Pension System

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Houston, Texas 77002

 

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