SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

August 27, 2013

Retirement system gets favorable audit

DANVERS — The last time the state audited the Essex Regional Retirement System, it revealed lavish spending, secret meetings and mismanagement of funds.

Three years later, the system is being painted in a much more favorable light.

An audit released last month by the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission gave the Essex retirement system a generally favorable review.

The audit cited three deficiencies — a far cry from the 23 noted in the last audit in 2010. Joseph Connarton, executive director of PERAC, described the problems this time around as “minor.”

“We’re pleased with the leadership of the board and the administrator they hired,” Connarton said. “He has certainly delved into the problems of the past and done an excellent job of addressing those.”

That administrator is Charles Kostro, a former state transportation official and town administrator in Newbury who took over as executive director of the retirement system in March 2011.

Along with a new board of directors, Kostro was charged with cleaning up a scandal-plagued agency whose misdeeds led to the ouster of its former board and management.

“Even though we still have work to do to get where we want to be, I think this (audit) is tangible evidence that the system has turned itself around and is doing the things it is supposed to be doing to properly manage the money that’s entrusted to us,” Kostro said.

Essex Regional oversees public pensions for 48 local entities, including 19 towns and six school districts, with a total of more than 3,000 public employees and retirees. The money for their pensions comes from contributions from both employees and taxpayers.

Kostro said the regional retirement system has cut operating expenses by 30 percent, sliced its legal expenses by more than half and trimmed salaries from more than $500,000 to $451,000.

The agency has also lowered costs on its consulting and service contracts through competitive bidding, which had not been done in the past, Kostro said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News

AP Video
Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast
Comments Tracker