Benton Township adjusts pension plan for municipal employees

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Trustees approved a change to Benton Township’s pension plan for its employees, by moving the normal retirement age from 65 to 55.

The Internal Revenue Service requires retirement plan sponsors restate their plan documents at regular intervals to bring the plan into compliance with the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and other legislative changes.

Superintendent Elden Piontek said the change in retirement age was made to coincide with what the IRS deemed acceptable.

“It won’t have any effect on employees because it is essentially the same pension plan,” Piontek said. “They just have options for an emergency. If someone needed to borrow money from a pension plan to pay for a house of a medical procedure, they would be allowed to. The old plan did not allow this.”

The township was within an IRS-mandated restatement cycle and was required to update its 401(a) defined contribution group retirement plan documents for municipal employees.

Kelli Nelson, a contracted township accountant, said she was not sure how often the cycles occurred, but that they did not come yearly.

Trustees were given packets beforehand, which outlined the plan’s benefits and how it is administered.

“We’re not recommending any township employees (draw from their pensions early), but we have to allow those provisions to be compliant with IRS regulations,” Piontek said. “A pension is supposed to be used after retirement age, but now we have to allow that. It’s more like the normal plans that are out there.”

The updated pension plan goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Other agenda items

The township office will be closed on Nov. 25, 26 and 27 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Public comment lasted longer than 30 minutes on Tuesday. Several residents and members of the Coalition for Change and Justice spoke up about a variety of issues, including items addressed at the Nov. 3 trustees meeting.

Trustee Calli Berg was not present for Tuesday’s meeting. The next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in the township’s Municipal Building.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 18, 2015)


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