On the morning of January 30th, Soeun Yoon and I visited the City Hall of Providence. It was 10:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, and the Board of the Employees’ Retirement System was holding their regular meeting.
It was a new experience for me, for I had never entered a city hall prior to this visit. Initially, I expected the meeting to be extremely formal, and the board members to be intimidating. Upon entering the meeting room on the third floor, I felt more at ease. We were greeted by the Councilman, John J. Igliozzi, and were invited to introduce ourselves to the attendees. Everyone was welcoming. The board consisted of 7 male and 5 female members, and there were 4 other spectators in the room besides Soeun and I. The members were mostly white senior citizens. The meeting started with a roll call, then quickly dove into the issues of discussion. This meeting was centered on employee’s retirement. One of the first reports was on Lisa Scott, who encountered accidental disability and (I’m assuming) requested retirement. It was denied. The board expressed agreement by voicing “yay” or “nay”. On the Agenda, I was able to find a retirement loan portfolio of Providence. To my knowledge, retirement is an ongoing issue in the US, with the social security system only able to promise benefits for so long. Social security is in danger of being cut for a few main reasons: a falling worker-to-retiree ratio (baby boomers entering retirement) and higher life expectancy (retirees now need funding for longer).
After the meeting, the Councilman came to thank us for participating, and explained how the meeting was straightforward and ended quicker than usual (the meeting was 30 minutes long). I learned that anyone was able to attend city meetings like these, and that made me feel safer in trusting those who make decisions for a city. However, I would like to see more working members on the retirement board, because workers should have a say in how much they’re willing to spend out of their payroll taxes into social security. This meeting was a good opportunity for me to start thinking about issues that don’t currently affect me, such as retirement.