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Detroit Pension Funds Foot Bill For Trustees’ Hawaii Trip

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Four trustees of Detroit’s two reportedly underfunded public pension funds are expected to travel this weekend to a Hawaiian resort for a conference, with the $22,000 tab paid for by the funds.

Records obtained by the Detroit Free Press under the Freedom of Information Act show expenses include airfare, lodging at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu, registration fees, meals and other miscellaneous costs.

General Retirement System Trustee John Riehl, who plans to attend, said the six-day National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems is needed to help trustees do their jobs. He said just because the conference is being held in an exotic location doesn’t mean it’s a vacation.

“[Hawaii] just happens to be where the conference is this year,” Riehl said.  “We have to stay on top. We have to know what we’re doing.”

The General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System each are sending two trustees.

Here’s how the expenses break down, according to the Free Press:

  • General Retirement System Trustee Riehl’s expenses are $5,245: $1,278 for a plane ticket, $2,967 for lodging and $1,000 in registration fees.
  • General Retirement System Trustee Cedric Cook’s expenses are $3,874:  $719 for a plane ticket, $2,505 for lodging and $650 in registration fees.
  • Police and Fire Retirement System Trustee Edsel Jenkins’ expenses are $5,957: $1,138 for a plane ticket, $2,769 for lodging, $1,000 in registration fees, $900 for meals and $150 for miscellaneous expenses.
  • Police and Fire Retirement System Trustee Angela James’ expenses are $6,871: $2,052 for a first-class plane ticket, $2,769 for lodging, $1,000 in registration fees, $900 for meals and $150 for miscellaneous expenses.

A report Monday from Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager says the pension funds are underfunded by at least $600 million. The pension systems, however, say they’re adequately funded.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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