Sussex pension, benefits funds among tops

Conservative investments, county contributions provide security for retirees
March 14, 2023

Sussex County is in rarified air as far as the percentage of funding for its pension and other post-employment benefit plans is concerned.

With the pension funded at 99.8% and the OPEB funded at 86.8%, the county is in the top percentage of all municipalities in the country – nearly 25% higher than the average.

According to the Equitable Institute, the average funding rate of the 100 largest public pension funds was 72.8% in 2022, which is down from 83.9% in 2021.

An analysis of more than 6,200 municipal and state plans in 2020 showed a 72% funding level.

“Our actuaries have told us we are clearly in the top 1% in the nation of all OPEB funds,” said County Finance Director Gina Jennings.

Post-employment benefits include health, dental, vision and life insurance.

Currently, the county has 314 pensioners, including 245 who also receive benefits. The county allocated $5.7 million in pensions to retirees and $2.5 million in benefits last fiscal year.

Jennings explained that assets in the bank are 99.8% of what the county expects to owe in pension payouts.

Recovering from a bad year

During a report at the Feb. 28 Sussex County Council meeting, Jennings said the $12.8 million loss in the pension fund and $5.2 million loss in the OPEB fund investments last fiscal year is slowly recovering.

“This was one of the worst years we've had,” Jennings said. “But we've been able to use gains from previous years to smooth out the losses.”

As of Dec. 31, 2022, the pension fund was $138.2 million and the OPEB fund was $56.1 million. Jennings said fourth-quarter gains at 5.7% generated $7.4 million for the pension fund and $3 million for the OPEB fund.

The county contributed $3.8 million to the pension fund and $2.8 million to the benefits fund last fiscal year. Jennings said the money comes from the general fund and is allocated from departments where retirees worked.

Jennings said 63% of the county's investments are in high-quality stocks such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway.

See the most recent financial report at


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