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Scott Smith

School Division Candidate

Chief Financial and Operating Officer at Cherry Creek School District 5

This information has not been edited by PERA. Please read the information carefully so that you can make an informed decision.

The deadline to vote is May 31, 2022.

Responses to Questions

Question 1: Interest on Serving on the PERA Board
Please briefly describe why you are interested in being elected to the PERA Board of Trustees.

I am enthusiastic to serve on the PERA Board to continue to advocate for and protect the financial well-being of PERA for all stakeholders including members, employers, and retirees. I want to ensure that the financial viability of PERA is protected while ensuring that PERA members, employers, and retirees retain as much of their own money as possible. I will fight to guarantee that PERA is never converted to a Defined Contribution plan. I will add a finance-focused voice to the PERA Board that will work collaboratively but also ask the hard questions and ensure transparency.

Question 2: Views on PERA’s Mission/Vision
PERA’s mission is to provide retirement security for our members while ensuring the sustainability of the fund. PERA’s vision is to innovate and build on a tradition of service by being a trusted partner in order to meet the changing needs of our diverse membership. Please share your thoughts on these ideals.

The most important job of a PERA Board member is to protect and preserve PERA for current and future retirees. From my role, I have seen that many of PERA’s legacy practices are improving and becoming more user-friendly. We should build on that momentum. We need to have the capacity to serve all members based on their lived experiences and provide solutions to help them overcome any structural barriers they may face. We need to ensure that financial planning related to PERA is understandable to all stakeholders and they are well-communicated with across multiple platforms.

Question 3: Funded Status—Challenges/Opportunities
Please describe what you consider as the biggest challenges and opportunities facing PERA in the next 4-5 years related to the funded status.

I believe one of the biggest challenges that we all face is attracting and retaining great employees. Any time there is a contribution rate increase we reduce the possibility of funding all needed programs for students and continue to reduce take home pay for employees. Increasing contribution rates also reduces potential compensation increases which, combined with inflation, further erode the purchasing power of our members. We need to ensure that PERA is funded at a fiscally prudent level while keeping all stakeholders’ interests in mind during decision making.

Question 4: Serving the PERA Membership—Challenges/Opportunities
Please describe what you consider as the biggest challenges and opportunities facing PERA in the next 4-5 years related to serving the membership.

We must ensure that the need for employers to have more flexibility in their budgets isn’t accomplished by placing more of the burden on our employees. Increasingly, school districts are competing against the private sector for employees and the combined contribution rate to PERA is higher than what the retirement contribution is in other sectors. This leads to lower salaries and lower take home pay in an incredibly competitive hiring environment. We must do everything we can to make employment in the public sector as attractive as possible including providing a robust defined benefit pension with appropriate employee contributions.

Question 5: Challenges/Opportunities Facing PERA
Please describe what you consider as other areas of challenge/opportunity facing PERA.

There is an opportunity to leverage technology across PERA. From what I have seen in the school district business office, many forms are paper, and many calculations appear to have manual intervention. Inadvertent mistakes can lead to errors in how much members receive or will result in extra time and effort to get it resolved. We need to ensure that PERA is leveraging best-in-class technology and internal processes with a focus on accuracy and the end-user experience. Lastly, we need to continue to communicate why the PERA structure is essential to Colorado workers and the Colorado economy.