Public Employee Retirement System of Nevada portfolio up $3 billion |

Public Employee Retirement System of Nevada portfolio up $3 billion

Geoff Dornan

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Buoyed by strong performance in the U.S. stock market, the Public Employee Retirement System of Nevada increased its total portfolio by nearly $3 billion in fiscal 2019.

As of June 30, auditors set PERS’s total net position at $44.28 billion. That is 76.5 percent of the total pension liability of $57.9 billion, maintaining the system’s reputation as one of the best managed public pension plans in the nation.

The increase comes from $3.47 billion in investment income — an 8.5 percent return on investment attributed to the booming stock market.

That was offset by more than $500 million in expenses, leaving PERS with a net $2.85 billion increase.

The rate of return is a full percent higher than the system projected at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Experts note that while the plan is only three-quarters funded, that number is based on the total liability of the system if every covered worker retired.

Auditors report that contributions increased by 4.9 percent during the year primarily because of increases in the number of active members in the system as public employers expanded the number of workers. Total contributions passed $2 billion for the first time.

They report that benefit payments increased by 7.5 percent because of post retirement increases and the number of beneficiaries increasing from 67,108 to just over 70,000. That increased total benefit payments to $2.6 billion from just over $2.4 billion the previous year.

The auditors pointed out that PERS administrative expenses actually declined more than 8 percent during 2019, primarily because of lower information technology costs.

PERS provides retirement benefits for about 110,000 public employees statewide. In addition to state, workers, that includes workers from every county, city and town government as well as the 17 school districts and a number of improvement districts.

PERS is funded by contributions from the employees and their governments. Regular fund employer/employee plan contributions are 15.25 percent of payroll. Police Fire contributions in the employee/employer plan are 22 percent.