File Photo: Downtown Marietta, including the Cobb County Superior Court, as seen from above. (courtesy of Cobb County)

Cobb approves reforms to employee pension plan

Cobb County employees will receive at least 60 days notice before any changes to their pension can be adopted, one of several pension reforms approved by the Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting Tuesday. 

The amendments were made in response to employee concerns, said County Manager Rob Hosack.

Cobb’s pension program is just 52 percent funded, making it one of the poorest in the state. A report by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found over the years Cobb boosted benefits but failed to increase funding, even in the market’s heyday. 

Today, the plan is less generous to new hires, while some retired senior officials collect as much as $24,000 a month.

Increasing pension costs were one of the factors that led the board to approve a tax increase this summer, and there’s been talk of eliminating pensions entirely for new hires. 

Matt Babcock, the pension advocate with the Cobb firefighter’s union, welcomed the reforms and blamed “poor decisions in the past” for the present state of the pension fund.

“I believe the current commissioners recognize those past mistakes and this amendment will help prevent similar problems in the future,” Babcock wrote in an email. “I would say it’s the most important single change the BOC can make to improve transparency.”

Babcock said he would like to see more changes, such as adding two trustees to the pension board — one elected by employees and the other by retirees. 

Separately, the commissioners postponed a decision to create Cobb’s first affordable housing incentive for developers

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