Patch’s Political Reporter Bryan Sears’ article on a new pension issue raises questions about the Baltimore County Pension Board of Trustees' role in overseeing various pension funds.
County councilmen questioned the prudence of borrowing $25 million from the Baltimore County Employees Retirement System, approved by the Board at its July 10 meeting.
Councilman Tom Quirk explained that the council had no input on the matter even though the council previously approved financing for the recycling facility.
This blogger followed up on another Sears article that covered a 2007 deal, when the County invested $21 million from the general fund into the failed Mainsail, LLC investment; it conveniently traded the worthless asset to the Police Fire and Widows Pension fund (PFWPF) for the full $21 million value of the investment.
I am currently seeking documents concerning a vote of the Board of Trustees on the Mainsail investment. In the November 26, 2007 letter allegedly sent to the County Council, Mr. Fred Homen explained that “The county executed the transfer of the Mainsail commercial paper to the PFW Pension Fund on November 15, 2007.”
The letter made no mention of the County Pension Board of Trustees input or vote on the matter.
This begs the question then of the role of the Trustees in supervising the various pension funds, and whether they merely exist to put a happy face on politically sensitive transactions, but remain silent in those the county can quietly sweep under the rug. Can the County, without the Council or the Board’s permission, trade worthless investments to the employee pension funds because of the “greater need for liquidity” in the general fund?
When asked for clarification on when the Board is required to take a vote my calls were not returned. I have filed two Public Information Act requests in an effort to shed some light on the past actions of the Board. The first case is scheduled for a circuit court hearing on September 26 over documents the county refused to turn over.
In another Sears article the question arises over who controls the pension board? The question I have is, is it Homan or as the county charter outlines in Article 3 & 5, is it the Board of Trustees working as a quorum?