Macon public safety pension board back to five members

After months of operating with four members, the Macon Fire and Police Employees Retirement System is back to five members.

The board voted 3-0 Thursday afternoon to accept Lynn Wood, a financial adviser and assistant vice president at SunTrust Investment Services. Board member Danny Angelo was not present. Neither was Wood, who sent word that he had an unavoidable previous commitment, board Chairman Charles Jones said.

But Jones and board member Charlie Bishop said they had already talked to Wood, and they found him to be a good candidate. The board had several previous candidates but several times had deadlocked 2-2, with each side saying they didn’t quite trust someone endorsed by the others.

According to Wood’s résumé, he has been at SunTrust since November 2010, but he has worked at bank and investment firms in the area for the previous five years.

He’s a 2004 Mercer University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in education.

He ran his own real estate business, L.T. Wood Enterprises, while in college.

Pension contribution

Jones asked city staff when a recently approved allocation of $1.2 million will be going into the fire and police pension fund. Human Resources Director Ben Hubbard said he wasn’t sure. He hadn’t heard an update since Finance Director Tom Barber left last week for his new job as city administrator of Fairburn, but he promised to find out.

The contribution is meant to put the fund back in formal compliance with actuarial requirements. About a year and a half ago, the required city contribution jumped dramatically, but the city didn’t increase its monthly funding.

Another $2.4 million will need to be added to the fund in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. But the city must also repay the past 17 months of underfunding.

Bishop said he wants to see a solid plan to catch up. The debt is accumulating penalties at the rate of 8 percent, and the city can borrow money to pay it off for far less interest than that, he said.

The city ordinance to add the $1.2 million calls, nonspecifically, for catching up financially over the next five years.

In November, Mayor Robert Reichert suggested finding cash quickly by selling the Willie C. Hill City Hall Annex and Macon City Auditorium, having them retrofitted for energy efficiency, and leasing them back for a number of years.

After that, the city would be obligated to buy the buildings once again. Internal Affairs Director Keith Moffett said last week that the idea is still being studied.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.