Commissioners voted to issue a resolution strongly opposing passage of HB 958 which proposes to reduce the interest crediting rate on all Texas County and District Retirement System (TCDRS) accounts, including employee accounts, from 7 percent to 5 percent. The bill was filed by Rep. Rob Orr (R) of Burleson.

“It’s county business. It’s county retirement system. The county controls it,” said Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux. “We can control our expenses on it. We definitely have a method of doing it here locally in the county by reducing the match the county puts in from the employers.”

If the state passes HB 958, it reduces the guaranteed interest on all the funds, including those employees contribute themselves.

Thibodeaux said by reducing the rate to five percent, it will reduce employee’s retirement by 17 percent. He said the bill stems from larger counties like Harris pushing the reduction because they say it is costing them too much money for the retirement of their employees.

“The county has a means of reducing their cost on retirement. You reduce your match,” said Thibodeaux. “Now it reduces the retirement for the employee, but at least the counties will have the mechanism to control their own expenses.

“I personally feel the legislature should stay out of it. There are no state dollars in the retirement system. It does not cost the State of Texas one penny. It comes from the counties and the employees putting in their fair share into the retirement system.

“The Texas Association of Counties is opposed to it. The Sheriffs’ Association, I’m pretty sure they’re opposed to it. Just about everybody is opposed to it.”

The Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT) Web site states “The TCDRS is one of the healthiest retirement plans in the country, currently at 89% funded. TCDRS current investment returns are 12% for YTD 2012, 7.3% for the ten year average return, 7.3% for the twenty year return and 9.2% for the 30 year return.”

Thibodeaux said, “They need to leave us alone. Every time the state starts jacking with the counties, they put a mandate on it. They need to take care of their own business and leave ours alone.”

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.