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Pension expert hired by retired Ohio teachers concerned special audit isn't ready yet

Suzanne Laird holds a sign that she says she’s brought to STRS board meetings for years, after the board voted to suspend cost of living adjustments for benefit recipients. STRS says it pays out over $7 billion in benefits each year to more than 152,000 retirees, survivors and others.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Suzanne Laird holds a sign that she says she’s brought to STRS board meetings for years, after the board voted to suspend cost of living adjustments for benefit recipients. STRS says it pays out over $7 billion in benefits each year to more than 152,000 retirees, survivors and others.

The pensions expert hired by retired teachers to look into the State Teachers Retirement System said he’s growing concerned about a special audit announced last year by the state auditor — which still hasn’t been released.

Ted Siedle does forensic investigations of pensions, and found STRS massively underperformed and paid too much in fees, which STRS disputes. Siedle said he was interviewed by Auditor Keith Faber, a Republican, for the state’s special audit, announced after Siedle’s report came out.

In September, Faber said of that audit: "We've got some concerns. I will just tell you that audit's going to have some concerns. We don't talk about audits while they're pending, but we have some concerns and things that we're identifying. But we are on it. We are working aggressively.”

With the STRS special audit announced more than a year ago and with those comments in mind, Siedle is now wondering where that audit is.

“He's alarming the pensioners, government workers and retirees as well as taxpayers by saying there's some concerns, some worrisome issues, some troublesome things that he's identified. But he's not saying what they are," Siedle said.

Siedle said if Faber is deliberately holding the STRS special audit till after the election, that’s reckless and irresponsible.

“What the auditor appears to be doing is trying to have his cake and eat it too – tell the participants in the pension fund that he's looking into it, there are some concerns that are legitimate that he's going to address. But he's not going to tell you what they are until after the election," Siedle said.

The auditor’s office doesn’t give information about when audits will come out, but only said this one is still on track to be released by the end of the year, potentially December.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.