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Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsGERS Loans Starting With $20 Million

GERS Loans Starting With $20 Million

GERS Administrator Angel Dawson told trustees that plans for a loan program restart were moving forward. (Photo courtesy GERS website)

The Government Employees’ Retirement System expects to release the details on restarting its loan program for government employees in early April.

At a Tuesday meeting of the Board of Trustees, GERS Administrator Angel Dawson said he had attended a meeting on March 14 concerning the program’s restart, and a press release with details would go out on April 8.

When GERS shut down the program in 2015, calls immediately came demanding it be restarted. Within a year, the Senate passed legislation mandating that GERS restart the program.

However, trustees said restarting the program was “financially irresponsible,” considering the system was wobbling toward bankruptcy. The GERS Rescue Act passed two years ago, changed that.

Senators continued to push for the program, but trustees remained cautious.

The program was never really shut down as there were still active loans; no new loans were being issued.

Dawson reported Tuesday that the outstanding balances were at a “low level” after a decade of no new loans. However, the outstanding amount owed to the GERS is almost $7 million. Government employees, totaling 306, have active loans with GERS, and 383 retirees are still on a payment schedule with the system.

Trustee Ronald Russell asked if Dawson or the Board Chair Dwane Callwood asked the Legislature if it could help with the costs of administrating the loan program. Dawson and Callwood recently testified before the Legislature concerning the GERS budget.

Dawson answered no.

The GERS webpage says that in 2024, $20 million will be available for personal loans, with $10 million allocated per district. After those amounts are exhausted, the GERS will not make any further personal loans. The interest rate charged will be eight percent.

The loans apply only to active members — government and applicable semi-autonomous agencies — not retirees, GERS said.

One place where Dawson does not want to appear to be a banking business is with debt. Tenants owe the GERS $101,000 in back rent and $76,000 in utility bills, he said. The Justice Department seems to have the biggest bill, owing $74,000 in back rent and $55,000 in utilities.

Trustee Andre Dorsey initiated a conversation about whether measures were included in new leases that would make the collection of back rent easier. Dawson had indicated in his report that leases were in various stages for the Justice Department, Casino Commission, and the Police Department.

Trustees Vincent Liger, Leona Smith, and Nellon Bowry also attended the meeting.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to say that GERS loans will only apply to active members (government and applicable semi-autonomous agencies), not retirees.

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