14 NEWS INVESTIGATES: Vanderburgh Co. employees upset over retirement plan company switch

14 NEWS INVESTIGATES: Vanderburgh Co. employees upset over retirement plan company switch
Internal memo emailed to 14NEWS from 2015 detailing approximate size of 457 Deferred Compensation Plan.
Internal memo emailed to 14NEWS from 2015 detailing approximate size of 457 Deferred Compensation Plan.

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Hundreds of Vanderburgh County employees are slowly finding out that their retirement plans are now with a new financial company, after a vote by county commissioners.

Several county employees are angry over that decision.

They claim they were never notified, and didn't know anything about the switch until two weeks ago.

Since then, several county employees have reached out to 14NEWS asking for us to find answers to their questions.

The topic discussed openly in Tuesday night's county commission meeting.

The 457 Deferred Compensation Plan for upwards of 600 county employees has been handled by Nationwide for over 20 years.

Commissioner Bruce Ungethiem says commissioners periodically look at the plan and determine if it's providing the best affordable coverage.

Ungethiem says two independent evaluations were done in July of 2015, to see if the current plan with Nationwide could be improved.

Ungethiem says the two evaluations revealed county employees were paying high user fees.

Those evaluations opened the door for commissioners to start exploring other options, according to Ungethiem.

According to officials, there are only four companies in Indiana with capabilities to handle the 457 Deferred Compensation Plans for Vanderburgh County employees.

According to county commissioner Joe Kiefer, no bids or request for proposals had to be submitted since this is a service contract.

Commissioners voted on the switch from Nationwide to Voya/Wells Fargo, back in November.

Many of the county employees who emailed our reporter Jess Raatz were upset at the lack of transparency during all these talks.

Commissioner Bruce Ungethiem says they should have sent out a memo, and the commissioners could have communicated better.

A county employee who wished to remain anonymous spoke to us Tuesday afternoon, before the county commission meeting.

" If I asked to take your money from one place to another, you would have questions," explains this county employee.

" It's not their money to mess with, it's our money.  I should know where it is at all times, that's my retirement."

Ungethiem says state officials made the same switch last year, to the same company (Voya/Wells Fargo).

County employees with direct knowledge of the situation told our reporter Jess Raatz, that statement isn't true.

Those employees say the state switched over a plan, but it wasn't retirement plans for employees.

According to the public meeting minutes from when commissioners voted, county commissioner Joe Kiefer abstained from the vote.

That's because his son works for Voya/Wells Fargo, the new company handling employee retirement plans.

Here are the meeting minutes from November 10th of last year:

President Kiefer: Alright next I'm going to do, under action items, under Commissioners, we have a 457 deferred compensation plan administrative services agreement with Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company. Voya and Wells Fargo Advisers will be partnering together to provide the financial advisory service for the county employees who are participants in the 457 Plan. Voya is to receive a commission of .003 percent, or 30 basis points on 457 Plan transactions, which is considerably, considerably lower than what we had before. I think we have somebody here from Voya and Wells Fargo here. Do we have any questions that you want to ask? Okay, if that's the case, then I'll ask for a motion to approve.

Commissioner Melcher: So moved.

Commissioner Ungethiem: Second.

President Kiefer: Roll call please.

Madelyn Grayson: Commissioner Ungethiem?

Commissioner Ungethiem: Yes.

Madelyn Grayson: Commissioner Melcher?

Commissioner Melcher: Yes.

Madelyn Grayson: President Kiefer?

President Kiefer: I'm going to abstain, as my son is an employee of Wells Fargo. Thank you

Ungethiem says the switch from company to company, will not result in any additional fees for taxpayers, employees, or the county to pay.

He says as part of the agreement, those fees will be waived.

Officials from Voya were present during Tuesday night's meeting.

Those representatives said the transition from Nationwide to Voya/Wells Fargo will take place in early May.

This is a story 14NEWS will continue to follow.

Copyright 2016 WFIE. All rights reserved.