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Borough pension board gets good prognosis

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Nov 28 2012 06:02:17 PM CST
EMMAUS, Pa. -

Emmaus' pension fund is poised to finish the year on the plus side.

Cheryl Hart, a Wells Fargo vice president who is a portfolio specialist, told the borough pension board Wednesday afternoon her "best guess" is the fund will have grown by 5 or 6 percent in 2012, despite some slippage in October and November.

Hart broke down the third-quarter figures for the two plans that cover
18 police and 32 non-uniformed employees during a teleconference call.
Overall, she said they were "nice, positive numbers."

The police plan started with $4.62 million, paid out $69,315, made
$220,400 from investments and finished with $4.77 million on Sept. 30.
The other plan started with $3.23 million, paid out $37,072, made
$153,647 and finished with $3.34 million.

Hart said profits "were coming in ahead of expectations" through September, but things started to deteriorate in October and early November. "It's all bad news at this point," she said. "We spent billions on an election for no change in Washington. ... We can expect taxes to increase, but we don't know by how much or on whom. That's making everybody nervous."

She also noted that the international situation involving France, Spain, Italy and Greece is causing the market to be unsettled.

Pension board member Karl Geschwindt asked Hart to prognosticate for 2013. Hart replied that information is always being updated, but right now, the experts estimate the kind of investments in the borough pension fund could increase as much as 12.5 percent or drop as much as
17.5 percent in 2013.

Hart said over the last several months she has conducted meetings with
100 manufacturing clients, and the consensus seems to be that profits are expected to be lower in 2013, but that won't stop businesses from expanding.

Hart advised that the borough continue its 60-40 split between equity and fixed-income funds. "More than 60 percent equity is too much volatility, and less than 60 percent, your upside is limited," she said.