Even if you count yourself among PERA’s wide-ranging critics, you have to give credit to the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association for its outreach.
Call it — as PERA does on one of its proliferating websites — an “effort to inform and listen.” Or, call it an attempt to reassure the public about “reducing PERA’s risk profile,” as the behemoth retirement system also acknowledges. PERA is, after all, constantly drawing flak from some quarters over its unfunded liabilities to beneficiaries — and the implications for its financial stability.
Of course, you also could chalk it all up to plain-old, slick PR intended to burnish — or shore up — the PERA brand. Point is, it’s easier duck a subpoena or outrun a rabid Rottweiler than to elude PERA’s perennial quest to reach out and hug its members, taxpayers and the general population of Colorado.
Hence, PERA’s latest such endeavor: Two telephone town hall meetings on April 27 (more info here) and 12 community meetings around the state over the next couple of months.
Not only is the new campaign thumbnailed on PERA’s peraontheissues.com companion website, but PERA also has spun off what spokeswoman Katie Kaufmanis says is a microsite specifically to tout the statewide tour.
In an email to ColoradoPolitics.com, Kaufmanis offered some background on PERA’s planning of the event, including the consultants it hired to help get the show on the road, literally:
…PERA is using a couple of external vendors to assist us in facilitating the PERAtour discussions and to help build the PERAtour microsite. Engaged Public is helping with meeting facilitation so we can ensure a productive dialogue with those who attend the community meetings. Strategies360 is helping us build out the website dedicated exclusively to sharing information related to the tour.
PERA uses external contractors when it makes sense to obtain additional resources to supplement the work PERA staff performs. The PERAtour is a product of the PERA Board’s primary focus on ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of the plan that serves more than 560,000 of Colorado’s current and former public employees and has over a $6 billion annual impact on the Colorado economy. We believe it’s a smart business decision to seek expertise to enhance our work in our communication outreach efforts, just as we look to investment and actuarial consultants when expertise in these areas is required.
Of course, don’t expect any of that to soften criticism.
“It’s good they’re doing a listening tour — as long as they are listening to the taxpayers who have to pay the freight,” Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, said Wednesday. Neville unsuccessfully sponsored a bill earlier this session to cap employer contributions to the retirement system.
Here’s more on the Community Outreach Tour, courtesy of peraontheissues.com:
Beginning in May and into June, PERA will conduct a statewide community outreach tour to engage all stakeholders in conversations about the issues and gather input on options to adapt PERA to a growing Colorado and changing environment. No reservation is required and everyone is invited to attend.
June 1 | 6:00 p.m.
Summit Event Center, 411 Sable Boulevard
May 31 | 6:00 p.m.
Boulder JCC, 6007 Oreg Avenue
May 4 | 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Colorado Springs Marriott, 5580 Tech Center Drive
May 15 | 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
PPA Event Center, 2105 Decatur Street
June 7 | 6:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn & Suites, 21636 Highway 160 West
May 18 | 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Lincoln Center, 417 W Magnolia Street
June 5 | 6:00 p.m.
Clarion Inn, 755 Horizon Drive
May 8 | 6:00 p.m.
Island Grove Event Center, 421 N 15th Avenue
May 11 | 6:00 p.m.
Pueblo Convention Center, 320 Central Main Street