SB 507 (Lewis) as originally introduced would have required local governments prospectively electing enhanced retirement benefits to use the 1.85 percent multiplier for determining the annual retirement allowance for local law enforcement officers receiving benefits similar to those provided to State Police officers. Currently, local governments may elect to provide a 1.7 percent multiplier in lieu of the 1.85 percent multiplier. According to fiscal impact statement from the Commission on Local Government, of the localities which did report a negative fiscal impact, the cost stems from increases in employer payments towards impacted employee’s retirement, due to the increase in employer contribution rates. Several localities reported this fiscal impact would increase over time, as the retirement population of the covered employees increased.
On February 9, SB 507 was heard by the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. The legislation was amended to only apply to deputy sheriff positions and to have a delayed enactment of July 1, 2023. Though VACo still has concerns about the legislation’s fiscal impact, an opportunity for public testimony was not given and the bill was reported by the Committee on a unanimous vote of 15-0. The bill has subsequently passed the Senate 40-0.
According to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), of political subdivision employers in VRS, 120 are cities and counties that have deputy sheriffs. Of those, 56 cities and counties already provide the 1.85% multiplier, as shown below. This accounts for about 61.5% of the deputy sheriffs.
The remaining 64 cities and counties with deputy sheriffs would be required to increase from the 1.70% to the 1.85% multiplier for their deputy sheriffs only. This accounts for about 38.5% of the total number of deputy sheriffs.
While this bill has not yet been assigned to a committee in the House, it is very likely that the bill will be referred to the House Appropriations Committee’s Compensation and Retirement Subcommittee. Similar bills that have been referred to this committee have been referred to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), which will be conducting a two-year study of state and local hazardous duty benefits, examining whether benefits should be increased and if additional categories of employees should be added to both state and local hazardous duty categories. If your county has concerns over the fiscal impact of this legislation, VACo encourages you to reach out to members of the subcommittee.
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett