Lower Fees by Pooling Resources
The Low Cost Full-Service OPEB Trust Solution for Western MA
Western MA OPEB Trust is an innovative, ready-to-go trust program designed exclusively for public entities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire and Worcester counties to cost efficiently prefund their retiree healthcare or OPEB obligations with the lowest investment fees available.
Western MA OPEB Trust is an IRS, GASB 45/75, M.G.L. 32B:20 and state compliant and brings collective investment, legal, and administrative economies of scale to participating members.
- Only comprehensive OPEB trust services program in western MA
- Efficient model with economies of scale
- Low-cost, flexible investment options managed by Vanguard
- Personalized service provided to each individual member
- Quick, simple implementation process with signature ready documents
- No start-up fees, minimum fees or contribution requirements
- No IRS application process or ongoing legal costs
- Local control for each participating member over funding, contribution amounts and timing
- Document management & ongoing compliance monitoring
- Fees that decrease as combined assets of all Vanguard investment pools grow
Economies of Scale Trust Structure
As a multiple-employer trust program, members realize economies of scale, including access to low investment fees, which decrease over time as the total assets in the Vanguard investment pools grow. Members maintain separate accounts for their assets and there is no cross sharing of earnings or liabilities.
Western MA OPEB Trust Providers
HCG has partnered with Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS), one of the largest OPEB trust administrators in the nation. Trustee/custodial services are provided by U.S. Bank and investment management and advisory services are provided by Vanguard. This collaborative approach, with ongoing oversight provided by HCG, ensures that Western MA OPEB Trust is one of the most efficient and cost effective OPEB trusts in the nation.
PARS Manages Over $1.5 Billion
- Trust Administration
- Investment management and fiduciary services
- Trustee and Custodian
- Document development/management
- State and federal compliance monitoring
- Contribution and disbursement processing
- Regular reporting as well as actuarial and audit support
- Consulting and hands-on support
OPEB refers to benefits, with the exception of pensions, that retired public employees receive after employment. These benefits include: health, dental, vision and life insurance, and in some cases, dependent coverage. Per guidelines established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), public entities began to actuarially value these liabilities a decade ago and as of 2017, must report them on the balance sheet in their annual financial statement. Last year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ OPEB liability was approximately $16 billion. The liabilities for counties, cities, towns, regional school districts, and special districts was $46.7 billion as of September of 2016, according to the Massachusetts Public Employees Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC).
PARS Serves Over 270 Clients
Why Prefund with Western MA OPEB Trust?
With growing retiree healthcare costs, long-term OPEB liabilities will continue to rise. Some of the advantages of prefunding these liabilities with Western Mass OPEB Trust include:
- Investing assets can result in a greater rate of return which then leads to lower liabilities
- Contributions into the trust are assets that offset liabilities on financial statements
- Credit rating companies look more favorably on agencies who prefund
- Prefunding now means future taxpayers and employees will not bear a disproportionate burden of the costs
- Assets can be used as a budget stabilization tool so that in future years, rising OPEB costs will not impact key public services
- Reduces impact of GASB 75 which now requires OPEB liabilities to be on the balance sheet
“Addressing our District’s retiree healthcare liabilities is a key part of sound fiscal management. When the School Committee made the decision to establish an OPEB Trust we knew we wanted to ensure that our assets were well invested and properly managed. With the PARS OPEB Trust program not only did we achieve our goal of strong investment returns but we benefit from the full administrative program including fully managed trust, compliance monitoring and reporting.”
–John LaFleche – Superintendent Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational District
“The solution to our prefunding needs was the PARS OPEB Trust Program. Their IRS compliant and legally vetted trust is not only ready to join with no start-up fees or funding requirements—but allowed us to participate in investment models that wouldn’t otherwise be available to us. The comprehensive turn-key service and ongoing compliance offered by PARS means no administrative burden for us. The PARS OPEB Trust Program was the solution we were looking for to make prefunding possible for us.”
-Stephanie Fisk – Business Manager for the Gateway Regional School District