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Mayors Put Focus on Employee Benefits with Great-West, Colonial Life

By Kathryn Kretschmer-Weyland
January 28, 2013

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, under the leadership of President Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, appointed Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin as the advisor and advocate to the Conference of Mayors benefits partnerships with Great-West and Colonial Life.

Nutter emphasized the importance of these partnerships to mayors, explaining, “These programs are not only valuable to our cities, but our cities’ participation in these programs keeps our dues here at USCM low.”

Benjamin moderated a panel of public sector retirement experts, including Groom Law Group Chairman Steve Saxon, Great-West Financial Vice President Brent Neese, and Great-West Financial Senior Director for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Marilyn Collister. The panelists tackled topics ranging from the new Conference of Mayors Deferred Compensation Program with Great-West, mayors’ fiduciary roles, retiree investment services, and the impact of plan administrative fees on city employees.

Administrative fees in particular are a growing concern in the defined contribution marketplace. As Saxon explained, “The elimination of administrative fees alone will save each public employee on average $50,000- $70,000 over the course of a 30 year career in public service.” The former Conference of Mayors Program had administrative fees ranging from 65bps-95bps. Removing these unnecessary fees is a best practice, and something cities should ask their providers to do, or consider switching to another program like the one offered by the Conference of Mayors and Great-West.

Doing some quick calculations, Benjamin noted that this savings would add up to over $1 million for Columbia’s employees. In a time when there isn’t money in the budget for raises, this impactful change comes at the right time. As Benjamin told mayors, “This costs your city nothing, and provides a needed benefit.”

Continuing the theme of providing additional value to employees during challenging times, Colonial Life Public Sector Director Bill Heydt provided information on 17 best practices as outlined by the Government Finance Officers Association that can help cities contain the costs of health care benefits while still providing for employees.

One case study comes from Dallas, who as Heydt described, “Saved $1.1 million by doing a dependent verification of their healthcare plan at no cost to the employer.” Heydt provided a study to mayors that for the first time pulled together a variety of best practices into one easy to use and implement document.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors partnerships with Great-West and Colonial Life are bringing cities best practices, revolutionary ideas, and value added benefits for their employees. The Conference of Mayors will be hosting seminars, webinars, and will be providing additional resources to cities to help them implement these programs.

For more information, contact Jeannie Fanning at 240-393-9672 or send e-mail to, or contact Jeff Bean at 202-446-8140 or send e-mail to