DARKE COUNTY – Public Employee Retirees, Inc., better known as PERI, is a State wide organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the pensions and benefits of anyone who is already retired or is about to retire under OPERS, which is Ohio’s Public Employees Retirement System.
The Darke County chapter of PERI will be holding its bimonthly luncheon meeting on Monday, April 4, at 11:30 a.m. at the VFW on Ohio Street in Greenville. All Darke County OPERS retirees are welcome to attend. The luncheon meeting is $9 per person, payable at the door. For OPERS retirees who have not previously attended PERI meetings, reservations for the April 4 meeting must be in by Wednesday, March 30, by calling Vivian Nieport, Attendance and Contact Chairman, at 548-3961. Current members will be telephoned in the usual way by PERI’S calling committee.
John Vehre, Director of the Greenville Library, will be the main speaker. He will be reviewing the free programs and benefits offered by the library, including free computer classes especially designed for Retirees who might have limited or no computer experience. “With so much information being transmitted by computer, even Retirees with experience can benefit by learning of new computer programs that are available to them.” he said.
A discussion will also take place regarding the challenges all PERI Retirees had last year. First, they faced major changes with their OPERS funded insurance coverage. Secondly, a Consolidated Appropriations Act, called the Cadillac Tax, was introduced by Congress, which assesses health care providers when their coverage value exceeds certain thresholds. According to the Ohio OPERS Newsletter, this would cost OPERS tens of millions of dollars if it keeps its health care plan for retirees under 65 the same as it is today. Even though it is reported that the Cadillac Tax has been delayed until 2020, OPERS officials warn that it could impact health care in a major way.
Headed up by an administrative staff and seven trustees, PERI is composed of eleven districts, each with eight counties. Darke County is a member of District 3, along with Champaign, Clark, Greene, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, and Preble counties.
Each district has an area Representative, who is required to be from one of the eight counties, and who is selected by the State of Ohio’s PERI Board of Directors. It is the Representative’s job to keep all counties within his jurisdiction informed about pending legislative issues, insurance changes, serious problems and other matters that can directly impact PERI members. District 3’s most recent Representative was Jim Douglass of Camden, Ohio, whose term limits are up. There is currently a District-wide search for his replacement.
Each county within a district is called a Chapter which holds its own meetings and elects its own officers. The Darke County Chapter’s recently appointed officers are Anne Vehre, President; Ruth Dailey, vice President; Tony Walters, Secretary; Shirley Norris, Treasurer; and John Deeter, Legislative Officer.
Thanks to the efforts of past officers and the willingness of members to work together, the Darke County Chapter recently learned their membership per capita is by comparison greater than some of the chapters that have much larger populations. According to conversations with other district officers, several county chapters have been forced to disband because of lack of interest and participation. In the light of proposed health insurance increases and pending legislative taxes, this could cause major problems for retirees with OPERS funded pensions and health insurance benefits.
Knowing there is power in numbers, the PERI Darke County Chapter is planning for the future by sponsoring programs that will not only increase membership even more, but which will address pending problems as they come up. Local programs will also be introduced of which retirees might not be aware. From inexpensive recreational opportunities to free educational offerings, from health and welfare programs to plans for a senior activity center, the Chapter looks forward to finding out about everything Darke County, surrounding areas, and the State of Ohio have to offer that will benefit its OPERS retirees.