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UB Regional Institute Crunching Numbers

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Municipalities are gearing up to comply with stricter new government accounting requirements. The Regional Institute at UB says the numbers that will be reported for employee retirement expenses are likely to be staggering.

The so-called new GASB 45 rules begin to go into effect in July. That is when the largest municipalities, including Erie County, will have to report their employee retirement costs.

Erie County officials have already estimated the county's other post employee benefits, or OPEB, at a stunning one billion dollars.

Smaller municipalities will have to report their numbers in July 2009. Darren Kempner is a finacial analyst with the Regional Institute. He said they also are gathering the information to get a big picture of the situation.

The GASB 45 law does not require municipalities to have a plan for paying those expenses. Last month the state comptroller proposed legislation that would allow for trust funds where municipalities could invest and grow dollars to pay future expenses.

Kempner said that is one option. But he said there are others, such as changing benefit packages. He said the institute will provide guidance and encouragement for municipalities to develop some kind of strategy for coping with the costs.

Kempner said employee retirement costs are expected to consume half of all municipal budgets by the year 2050.

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