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Letters to the editor

Let CERS manage it Editor, The Sun: Pension has been a buzzword in Kentucky politics recently. Chances are you've heard talk of the state's pension crisis and the severe under funding of its systems. It's important to point out not all pension systems in Kentucky are the same. They serve different people, are funded with different tax dollars and are facing a much different funding future. The County Employees Retirement System (CERS) is the system that serves cities, counties and school boards in Kentucky. It's for local employees; your friends, neighbors and family members who are in public service. The state does not directly appropriate any money to the CERS actuarially required contribution (ARC). It has consistently been funded at 100 percent by local employers. We have paid what was asked of us, unlike the state. That is why CERS is funded at a much higher percentage than the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS), which is the system for state workers. Both are managed by the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS), which is state controlled. The governor has said mismanagement at KRS created some of the pension problems the state now faces. We believe it's time to leave KRS and manage our own local tax dollars. Separating CERS from KRS would create a new nine-member CERS Board of Trustees. The new board would be made of three people with 10 or more years of investment experience, three people with 10 or more years of retirement management experience and three people elected by the CERS membership. The board would be free of politics, regardless of future administrations, unlike the current KRS Board, where a majority of the members are gubernatorial appointees. CERS is also 63 percent of the membership in KRS - that means CERS pays 63 percent of administrative expenses. Those expenses have increased 245 percent since 2000. CERS currently pays $22 million a year, a much higher per person cost than similar public systems in Kentucky. We believe we can be much more efficient with the local tax dollars that go into CERS. The employees who count on CERS when they retire expect the people managing their money to be prudent with it. These are public servants who are not drawing lavish retirements. The average nonhazardous retiree earns $11,000 a year. Hazardous duty retirees, those who put their lives on the line as police officers and firefighters, earn around $25,000 a year after paying more into the system. Separation will not fix the funding shortfalls CERS now faces, but pension reforms passed in 2013 are working. An independent actuary hired by the Kentucky League of Cities shows the new reforms will result in CERS being 100 percent funded by 2043, the first year after the end of its current amortization period. Separation will help ensure CERS does not get off that path. It's time to separate the systems and allow CERS members to manage their own money. Ann Miller Versailles City Council Naïve liberals Editor, The Sun: The reason we have such a problem with North Korea now can be illustrated by the typically naïve liberal world view of college professors like John Stempel. From his hide first, ask questions later policy position, Stempel accuses Congressman Andy Barr and "right-wingers" in a recent letter of creating a climate where America is forcing Iran to break its word on the recent nuclear ballistic missile program treaty. Folks, this fellow is actually teaching at the University of Kentucky. No wonder our kids are not learning anything. Parents should be highly upset and question if the tuition they paid is refundable. As a UK graduate, I'm deeply concerned my alma mater condones such ridiculous instruction. As a citizen of Kentucky, I'm very happy with the leadership of Congressman Barr and his colleagues who have enough common sense to know what "trust but verify" means. It's important that we have leaders with experience and good judgement when it comes to the critical foreign policy decisions we face these days. I will be happy to continue my support of Congressman Barr and writing my next letter to UK for an explanation of this childish and irresponsible professor. Keep up the great work Andy. Bill Marshall Midway Keep what we have Editor, The Sun: In the early 1980s, it had become apparent that the old football/soccer stadium on Lexington Street was in need of replacement. It was substandard in virtually every respect as compared to other facilities in Central Kentucky. The lighting was poor, there was virtually no seating for visiting fans (and very little for home fans), and parking was extremely limited. The restrooms were tiny and situated attached to or adjacent to the concession stand, and on more than one occasion, the plumbing backed up during games and sewage seeped onto the floor of the stand. The stadium had simply outlived its function. Some of the undersigned attended a school board meeting and asked what the possibilities were for a new stadium. We were treated politely, and were politely told there was no funding for a new stadium. A few of us talked, and decided to see if the community would support a stadium for football and soccer. We formed a committee: J.C. Moraja, Ben Crain, Doug Matthews, Jim Gay, Ralph Combs and Chuck Fouser. We met every Thursday evening for four to five years. Not every member was present at each meeting, but there was a meeting each week and we had, from time to time, supporters who met with us. A very significant contribution was made by Woodford County governmental agencies, and by private citizens, whether in the form of financial or "in-kind" gifts. Local industries were extremely generous, as were some members of the Thoroughbred community. We received a letter from an elderly lady who said she had been a cheerleader for Versailles High many years before; she enclosed $10. The school board, so far as we are aware, made no contribution. The first games were played at Community Stadium in 1988, culminating what we believe was an excellent example of what can be accomplished through cooperation of the public and private sector, if no one cares who gets the credit. The Louisville Courier- Journal published an article at the time expressing this same theme. The baseball stadium, Chandler Field, was built on virtually the same principle, led by Ben Crain and his fellow devoted supporters of the baseball program. So far as we know, the board made no contribution toward Chandler Field. Now we understand that the school board, as presently constituted, proposes to abandon the present football/soccer and baseball stadiums, both in sound condition; this in spite of what we understand was a $300,000 expenditure by the board toward installing artificial turf at Community Stadium some five to six years ago. (It is further our understanding that the private sector contributed, in kind or financially, more than that figure toward the new turf). The board now proposes to tax us, including hundreds if not thousands of the private and corporate citizens who built Community Stadium and Chandler Field to begin with, to build new stadiums. The undersigned respectfully urge the board to reconsider its approach, eliminate plans for enormously expensive new stadiums, and let the issue of the need for a new high school stand alone for consideration by the people who are being asked to pay for it. We the undersigned pledge to keep an open mind on this issue. Ralph Combs Ben Crain Doug Matthews Joe Gay Linda Moraja Nash Nancy Fouser

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