“While the negotiated plan design changes didn’t immediately impact our pension funding level, the savings achieved by reducing the normal cost of the plans going forward helped put the Township in a healthy position to achieve a 100% funding level within a reasonable timeframe.”

– Mandy Grewal,
Pittsfield Township Supervisor

Employer Name:

Pittsfield Charter Township

MERS Programs:

  • Defined Benefit Plan
  • Hybrid Plan
  • 457 Program
  • Retiree Health Funding Vehicle
  • Health Care Savings Plan


Over a seven-year period, the Township’s OPEB liability was reduced by more than $5 million—an almost 80% reduction. As a percentage of payroll, the accrued liability shrank from 10.5% to just 4%.

The Township’s efforts to reduce future unfunded pension liability through plan design changes resulted in a budgeted savings of approximately $843,500, which the Township was able to apply towards further reducing their unfunded accrued liability. With these strategic changes, the Township has put a plan in place to reach a 100% funding level within 10 years.


Pittsfield Township is a full-service township with a commitment to setting the “gold standard in public service.” Attracting the talent to fulfill that commitment requires offering competitive wages and benefit packages. However, during the 1990s and early 2000s, pension and retiree health insurance benefits were promised without fully ensuring funding was in place, leaving the Township with significant unfunded accrued liability for both their pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB).


With long-term financial stability as the goal, Township officials worked with union leadership to negotiate modifications to pension and retiree health insurance benefit packages.


Following an OPEB valuation, the Township began using the MERS Retiree Health Funding Vehicle to prefund their existing obligation.

These assets are invested, with the earnings reducing the Township’s long-term contributions and unfunded liability. They then restructured the retiree benefit offered to new hires to provide a monthly stipend towards health insurance premium costs in lieu of providing a group retiree health insurance plan. The Township also adopted the MERS Health Care Savings Program, which provides employees with individual invested accounts to be used for post-employment health care expenses.

Next, the Township tackled their unfunded pension liability through plan design changes to reduce their future liability. They eliminated the cost- of-living adjustments for future retirees, and enrolled new hires in the MERS Hybrid Plan with a lower multiplier. The Township also began offering the MERS 457 Program―a supplemental savings program― and incentivized employee deferrals into the program through matching contributions.

Finally, the Township increased their pension funding through additional voluntary contributions. They also opted to absorb the full impact of increases to annual required contributions that resulted from the most recent Experience Study, rather than phasing it in over time.