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Shelby Co. pension anticipated to be completely funded in 15 years

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Shelby County Chief Administrator Harvey Kennedy says the pension system's higher debt load is not as bad as it looks, considering the fund's solvency. Shelby County Chief Administrator Harvey Kennedy says the pension system's higher debt load is not as bad as it looks, considering the fund's solvency.

(WMC-TV) - The new numbers have been crunched and Shelby County pension debt is on the rise. In a newly released report, analysts found that county pension debt crept up by nearly $10 million over the last year.

Shelby County Chief Administrator Harvey Kennedy says the pension system's higher debt load is not as bad as it looks, considering the fund's solvency.

"It is slightly higher, unfunded liability number than we did last year, but on a percentage basis, we went from 88.8 percent funded to 87.4 percent. So that's a very small reduction," said Kennedy.

Kennedy says, like many other governments across America, pension debt is at the mercy of the market.

"All of that's driven from the market losses in 2008," he said.

According to the new numbers, the county's "unfunded actuarial accrued liability" grew from $151.2 million in 2012 to $161.1 million dollars in 2013. While the pension debt is higher, Kennedy says Shelby County has contributed its full employee match to the fund.

"Unlike some of the other municipalities that are really struggling to make the contribution, Shelby County Government has been making 100 percent of the annual required contribution," said Kennedy.

He says Shelby County is better off than most.

"Our funded percentage is higher than most of the public pension funds across the country," said Kennedy. "We also had an increase, a very substantial increase in our assets."

Kennedy anticipates the pension fund will be funded 100 percent within the next 15 years, if the county continues its current path.

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