Mississippi PERS Director to Step Down in 2018; Board to Hold Runoff

New state law provides higher salary cap for the next director.

Pat Robertson, the executive director of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) of Mississippi, has announced that she is stepping down next year, and a new law could help the system become more competitive at attracting a replacement.

“I am announcing my retirement as executive director of PERS, which will take place in mid-to-late 2018 following the selection of a new executive director by the Board of Trustees,” said Robertson in her resignation letter. “With that objective in mind, the board has created an ad-hoc committee to begin the search for the new executive director, and I have every confidence that they will find the right person to take the reins.”

Robertson joined PERS in 1980, and was named executive director in 2005.

The replacement stands to make more than Robertson, thanks to a new state law that provides a higher salary cap for the next director.

According to previous Mississippi state law, no public officer, public employee, or administrator shall be paid a salary or compensation, directly or indirectly, greater than 150% of the governor’s salary. The law has since been amended to stipulate that the executive director of the Public Employees’ 1224 Retirement System, and the chief investment officer of the Public 1225 Employees’ Retirement System are exempt from this provision.

“I am confident that PERS will continue to consistently pay promised benefits to a growing population of retirees,” said Robertson, “and that the leadership will continue planning and preparing for the future.”

PERS is also holding a runoff election for one of two retiree representative positions on the PERS board of trustees after none of the candidates in the Feb. 23 election received a majority vote. Candidates for the runoff are George Dale, former Mississippi commissioner of insurance, and Philip Pepper, a former Mississippi state economist. The board will approve the election results at its April 25 meeting.

 The 10-member board includes the state treasurer, a gubernatorial appointee who is a member of PERS, two PERS retirees, two state employees, and one representative each from public schools and community/junior colleges, institutions of higher learning, counties, and municipalities. With the exception of the state treasurer and the gubernatorial appointee, board members are elected to staggered six-year term.

 By Michael Katz