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Special meeting yields little new information on Cincinnati retirement system

Jay Hanselman

Preliminary numbers show Cincinnati's Retirement System had an 11.9 percent return on its investments for 2012.  That's better than the 7.5 percent officials had projected. 

That's about the only new information that came from a special city council meeting Wednesday night to discuss the retirement system. 

Council Members Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn called the session. 

Smitherman was upset by who was not at the meeting...

"I think that the tension in the room, at least with me now, is that we invited the city manager, we invited the investment staff," Smitherman said.  "And I find it very disrespectful that the city manager, the staff, the investment team is not here today to answer our questions."

Council rules also limited members to no more than 6 minutes to ask questions or make comments. 

Mayor Mark Mallory said the discussion on the retirement issue should take place in the Budget and Finance Committee. 

Even with the better rate of return, the system's executive director said the city cannot invest its way out of the pension problem. 

Like many public systems it has a looming unfunded liability, meaning at some point in the distant future it will not have money to pay promised retiree benefits. 

Officials expect to have a complete report on the system's performance for 2012 available in May. 

The Council chamber was full for the special session. 

The Mayor had to remind the audience twice about not applauding or cheering during the meeting.  He also had at least one person removed from the chamber for interrupting.

Smitherman said he'll ask for another special council meeting on the topic in 2 weeks.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.