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Bishop discusses collapsed pensions with former St. Clare's employees

December 20, 2018 11:41 PM

LOUDONVILLE - St. Clare's pensioners are feeling optimistic after meeting with Bishop Edward Scharfenberger at Siena College on Thursday afternoon. They were there to discuss possible plans to restore pension plan funding.

"There's a lot of things that we have to look at it I don't think I can do that alone,” Scharfenberger said.

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Bishop Sharfenberger said it’s going to take multiple organizations to find a solution.

Pensioners first told NewsChannel 13 that in 2016 they received letters explaining the plan funds will likely run out sometime between 2024 and 2028. Though not ideal, they believed they had time to rearrange their assets.

Then this past October, over 1,100 pensioners got notice that their plans would either be cut or cancelled February 1, 2019.

In November, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany released a statement that said the situation was tragic, but the handling of the pension funds was the responsibility of the St. Clare's Corporation.

The statement went on the stay the diocese will help facilitate conversations to resolve the issue.

"I do see myself as in a position is like a father who is taking care of his family,” Scharfenberger said. “When I know my family is hurting I want to do what I can to be available to them."

Attendees said the meeting a good first step. The next step will be finding out just how much additional funding is needed, and where it will come from.

"The Mother Cabrini fund is just getting started and is certainly something we can look at I would certainly see that is a possibility because it certainly would be within the mission of the Mother Cabrini Foundation to give some assistance,” Scharfenberger said.

There has also been talk of state lawmakers pushing for funding to be allocated in the 2019 budget.

Though there are still lots of details to be worked out, pensioners told NewsChannel 13 they’re confident they’ll find a fix.

“We still think that our solution is to share with each other somehow find a way to do that,” former x-ray and ultrasound technician Mary Hartshorne said.

The St. Clare's pensions are deemed 'church plans' so they do not have to be insured the way most pensions do.

The Albany Law professor working on this case said there's debate over whether or not St. Clare's plan should have been deemed a 'church plan.' He said courts have been siding both ways and that could be an option should all else fail. However, at this point he said he's cautiously optimistic about the situation.

Stay with NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story as new information is released.

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WNYT Staff

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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