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The Latest: New Mexico pension puts staff raises on hold

May 7, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on allegations of improper raises at a New Mexico public pension fund (all times local):

1:40 p.m.

The board overseeing a $15 billion public pension fund has placed pay increases on hold for top staff members amid recriminations over prior raises and whether they were approved properly.

The New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association board on Tuesday delayed authorization of scheduled pay raises for 11 appointed employees including the executive director of the pension plan for state and local workers.

State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg says the pension’s executive director orchestrated pay increases for himself and others without full board approval in violation of state statute and fiduciary obligations. Executive Director Wayne Propst says the accusations are misleading and that he has followed established practices of the agency for the approval of compensation increases.

The pension’s unfunded obligations to retirees have negatively affected the credit rating for the state and the city of Albuquerque.

Both Eichenberg and Propst found affirmation Tuesday in an analysis from the state treasurer of procedures for staff pay increases.

State Auditor Brian Colón wrote that Propst acted reasonably and within his authority. He describes conflicting provisions of state statute and board policy on setting compensation as a “legal grey area.”

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6:30 a.m.

The board overseeing a $15 billion public pension fund for state and local government workers is weighing a new round of staff pay increases amid accusations that past salary hikes were adopted improperly without full board approval.

The New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association board was scheduled to meet Tuesday to decide on $37 million annual operating budget for the year starting July 1.

Board member and State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg has accused the executive director of the pension fund orchestrating pay increases for himself and others without full board approval in violation of state law.

Retirement Association Executive Director Wayne Propst said all recent compensation increases were in compliance with state law.

Solvency concerns are mounting as the pension’s unfunded liabilities exceeded $6 billion in June 2018.