If you’ve ever wanted to get involved in your retirement plan, putting your skills and expertise where it could really make a difference, then think about serving on the COAERS Board of Trustees!
COAERS is governed by an 11-member Board of Trustees. Four members of the Board are active employees of the system, elected by the active membership body to four-year terms. Two members of the Board are retired members of the system, elected by the retired membership body to four-year terms. The remainder of the Board is comprised of three city residents, City Council and Board appointed citizen members, and a City Manager or his designee.
Elections are held mid-October to early December. The active member and retired member elections are staggered and held every other year. To be an eligible candidate, you must be an active member of COAERS, either as a retiree for the Retired Member Places, or as a current active-contributing member to COAERS for the Active Member Places.
The full Board meets approximately 8 times a year. These include regular meetings as well as a Trustee Workshop and our Annual Members’ Meeting. Besides meeting as a full Board, a Trustee will also serve on at least one of the following committees: Audit and Risk, Benefits & Services, Policy, Investment, and Disability. These committees will meet quarterly, a few weeks prior to the full Board Meetings. For a brief description of each committee’s purpose, click here.
COAERS Board Members are fiduciaries and as such, must act solely in the best interest of all of the participants in the plan. The Board of Trustees is responsible for the proper and effective administration, management, and operation of the retirement system. The Board is trustee of the funds of the retirement system and has the full power in its sole discretion to invest those funds in a manner the Board considers prudent. Board governance relates to the process for making and implementing decisions to meet the Board’s responsibilities.
Statute dictates many of the responsibilities of the Board (see Texas Civil Statute, Article 6243n). In addition, there are a variety of activities that the Board is involved with on a yearly basis.
Generally, the Board of Trustees sets policy. The Executive Director is expected to recommend and implement policy and periodically report to the Board. Specific statutory Board responsibilities are shown below.
- Hire the Executive Director
- Maintain a tax “qualified” plan under 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code
- Establish rules and regulations for administration of the fund and transaction of business
- Designate an actuary who makes periodic valuations (at least once every two years)
- Report annually to members
- Retain investment managers
- Retain investment consultant
- Retain legal counsel
- Make disability determinations
- Appoint a Nominating and Election Committee for each election
- Annually determine whether a cost-of-living or lump-sum adjustment is feasible, and if so, determine the amount
Major Board Annual Board Activities
- Appointment of Nominating and Election Committee
- Appointment/Reappointment of Board Member (every four years or whenever a vacancy occurs)
- Certification of Election Results
- Approval of Annual Budget
- Review of Financials
- Engage External Auditors for Financial Audit
- Engage External Auditors for Internal Control Review
- Engage Actuary
- Review and approve Audit Report
- Review and approve Actuarial Valuation
- Determine Feasibility of Cost-of-Living adjustment
- Determine Interest Allocation on Member Deposits
- Evaluation of Executive Director
- Evaluation of General Counsel
- Board Self Evaluation
Healthy discussion and differing points of view are encouraged in decision-making. However once the trustees vote, the Board speaks with “one voice”. This means once a decision or direction is achieved, all Trustees support the decision or direction and can provide clear and consistent direction to the Executive Director or service provider.
The Board has adopted Bylaws which serve as the primary policy for Board governance. The Bylaws put into policy the authority, duties, and responsibilities of the Board. The Bylaws establish the procedure for meetings of the Board of Trustees, standing committees, and duties of individual trustees. The Bylaws also specify the responsibilities delegated to the Executive Director.
Code of Ethics
COAERS has a strict Code of Ethics. A copy of the Ethics Policy can be found here. All trustees will receive initial and ongoing training on this policy. Maintaining the highest standards of ethical behavior is important to COAERS. Even simply the appearance of a conflict of interest can cause damage to the System in terms of public perception and erosion of the trust with the membership.
Annual Financial Disclosure
Annually, each trustee is required to file a sworn and notarized Financial Disclosure / Conflict of Interest Affidavit. The form is provided at the January Board meeting and is an Attachment to Board Approved Policy C-3 Code of Ethics.
The Pension Review Board (PRB) established Minimal Educational Training (MET) requirements for trustees and administrators.
New trustees and administrators are required to take a minimum of seven hours of training within the first year of service. The seven hours must include training in seven core content areas. The core training is designed to cover the fundamental competencies of public pensions necessary for trustees and administrators to successfully discharge their duties.
Continuing trustees and administrators need to take a minimum of 4 hours of training every 2 years after the first year of service. These hours may be core or non-core topics.
All PRB training must be either taken from an accredited sponsor (such as TEXPERS, COAERS, NCPERS), or an approved course from a non-accredited sponsor. COAERS staff will track your hours and help you meet these requirements.
In-House Training & New Trustee Training
A variety of educational opportunities are provided in-house. Prospective trustees are provided a candidates training workshop and newly elected or appointed trustees are provided an orientation to their duties. COAERS is currently an accredited sponsor under the PRB MET program and certain training provided to trustees in-house counts towards the fulfillment of the State required training.
Open Meetings Training
State law requires new trustees to receive training on the Open Meetings Act within 90 days of taking the oath of office. The training is available on-line and the staff of COAERS can provide assistance in obtaining the training.