Pennsylvania state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will head a task force on municipal pensions.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf named state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to head a task force on municipal pensions.

Also on the task force are Mary Soderberg, former secretary of the budget; Janet Yeomans, former vice president and treasurer of 3M Corp.; and Susan Hockenberry, executive director of the Local Government Academy, Wolf said in a May 14 statement.

"Although most municipal pension plans in Pennsylvania are financially healthy, a significant minority are substantially underfunded," Wolf said in a letter to de Pasquale. "This underfunding can threaten both the retirement security of municipal employees and the ability of municipalities to provide basic services at a reasonable cost to their residents."

DePasquale earlier identified 562 municipal pension plans across Pennsylvania as fiscally distressed. In late March, he said York needs $10 million by Dec. 31 to meet its minimum pension payment obligations. Late in 2014, he said Scranton could go bankrupt within five years if it does not fix its problem.

State lawmakers have been debating legislation to change pension benefits for future and current state workers and teachers. The Senate on May 13 approved a bill - 28-19, largely along party lined -- that would put new employees into a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

The bill would also let current employees stay in the traditional defined-benefit public pension plan and decide whether to contribute more to maintain current benefit levels or take a benefit reduction.

In the House, a bill by Rep. John McGinnis, R-Logan Township, would shorten the amortization period for the state's two major public pension plans from 30 years to 20, with level dollar funding.

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