A pointed coversation about the health of the Willistown Township pension fund played out in the opinion pages of Main Line Suburban Life newspaper recently.
On Friday, Jan. 18, the paper published a column by Willistown resident Chris Smith, titled Willistown’s Pension-Fund Shortfall Must Be Addressed. On Monday, the paper printed a response from township supervisor Norman MacQueen.
Smith, who ran unsuccessfully for township supervisor in 2011 against the incumbent MacQueen, likened the township's financial situation to the course of the Titanic—calm seas of low taxes before the iceberg of a projected $2.6 million shortfall in the pension fund.
There have been some difficult economic times so it isn’t surprising that the pension fund is listing a bit, however, of the 1,443 public pension funds ranked by the Commission, Willistown ranked 1,157th. That puts Willistown just outside the bottom 20% of municipal pension funds by the barest of margins.
On Monday, the paper printed a response from MacQueen, who started by positing that Smith's essay is likely the prelude to another run at local office. He wrote that the township's pension fund was on the mend after being "ravaged by the worst economic downturn since the great depression."
The Willistown Board of Supervisors took concrete steps to boost the health of the pension fund. For example, a Pension Review Board was established, a new investment advisor was hired and additional investments were made by the Township in to the pension plan before the stock market had time to fully recover.
The two exchanged personal barbs as well. Smith implied that MacQueen's rumored interest in running for county controller is the metaphorical fog hiding Willistown's fiscal problems. MacQueen called Smith a "failed candidate" who is confused and misrepresenting the facts.
Scratching the Surface of Willistown Politics (and washing my hands afterwards)
Willistown Supervisor Candidates: MacQueen and Smith