Success Stories: Bristol Pension Fund
In a nation, and state, beset by underfunded pension programs for government employees, it’s almost impossible to comprehend what’s going on in Bristol.
Back in 1978, the old-line manufacturing city (springs and clocks) decided it needed to properly fund its pension account. While other Connecticut cities promised to do the same but never did—or actually raided their funds for more immediate needs—Bristol diligently salted away money, invested it and sat on it.
The result is that today Bristol has $534 million in its fund, or an estimated $150 million more than it will need to pay off all future obligations. The city hasn’t put any new money into it in over a decade. In fact, the city is at present looking for ways to invest the fund surplus, perhaps in businesses and companies willing to put down stakes in Bristol. The fund could also invest in real estate or buy stock in companies that do come to town, or operate there already.
So as the New Year begins, Bristol finds itself with a couple of success stories in hand. There’s its nearly unique pension situation (“This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this,” Eric Friedman, a public-finance analyst at Fitch Ratings in New York told businessweek.com). And then there’s ESPN, the enormous sports network that’s been pouring jobs into Bristol for years and now has promised to continue doing so in order to get state loans, grants and other emoluments.
Assuming it can get its operating budget in order, those are two pretty good legs on which to build an economic future.