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York County's pensioners will once again go without a cost-of-living increase as officials cite the high cost to provide one.

If the county's retirement board would have approved an increase to the roughly 1,100 retirees in the system, it would have taken a multi-million dollar toll on the county's pension fund because of a state law that says an increase must be retroactive to the last time one was given, said Robb Green, county controller.

That last time York County had a cost-of-living increase for its retired workers was in 2008, and granting a 100-percent increase for 2016 would have cost $11.3 million, he said.

"We will not be able to give an increase for 2016," Green told board members during their meeting on Wednesday.

But he's hopeful an increase will be given for 2017 if counties get a little legislative help, he said.

House bill:  A measure, House Bill 239, that landed on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's desk on Tuesday would allow counties to grant increases without having to pay increases retroactively.

Included in the bill is a requirement that a county's pension fund be at least 80 percent to ensure it isn't drawn down too greatly by a cost-of-living increase, said Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, a bill co-sponsor.

"I don't want to see a county pension system dipped into too much," he said.

Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, is also a co-sponsor of the bill.

Grove said he's not sure why or how the retroactive provision came about, but removing it means one less state mandate dictating local government action.

"It goes back to the county to look at what they can and can't do," he said.

Grove sponsored similar legislation last session, but it died in committee.

As for the current incarnation of the bill, it received bipartisan support, easily clearing the House and Senate.

A Wolf spokesman couldn't be reached for comment.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com

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