LACERS BOARD UPDATE: LACERS Adopts 3 Percent Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)


Michael Wilkinson, LACERS/Legal Representative

By Michael R. Wilkinson
LACERS/Legal Representative

Before we get to today’s subject, I want to thank all of you for electing me to another five-year term as the Retired Member of the LACERS Board. I will do my best to fight for the interests of all retirees and active members and stave off the shortsighted political interests that hurt LACERS.

Now for the news: The LACERS board approved the 3 percent COLA, the maximum available under the law, based on a finding that the local Consumer Price Index (CPI) for last year was 3.1 percent. For most Tier 1 Retirees, that means that you will get a 3 percent increase in July, and 0.1 percent will go to the COLA bank to be used to increase the COLA payment for any year in which the COLA is below 3 percent. Tier 3 retirees get a 2 percent COLA with no banking, but there are not any retirees in that tier yet.

Now back to a subject that I harp on, the importance of an aggressive representative to protect the rights of Retirees. The approval of the COLA was on the LACERS agenda recently, as it is each year, and the board is required to set the COLA at the amount determined as I described above. This action normally gets passed with no discussion. However, when it came up, one of the mayor’s appointees on the board asked if we could avoid paying the COLA because of the stress on City finances with the COVID-19 financial crunch. The City Attorney’s representative and staff quickly responded that this is not optional, and I argued that the COLA was part of the agreement that the City had with Retirees who fulfilled their part of the bargain while working.

The COLA was then approved on a unanimous vote. Crisis averted.

Finally, I want to touch on the financial strength of LACERS. Your plan is invested for the long term and will provide you and your family with retirement payments and health benefits every month. The system is designed to weather the ups and downs of the markets and provide you the stability you depend on.