I agree with Jack Llewellyn’s Nov. 7 “Buy Local” article as a way to help our business community get through these challenging times.
I also want to call attention to a major driver of our local economy, Colorado Public Employee Retirement Association’s (PERA) benefit recipients (retirees). Retirees paid into PERA throughout their careers as school employees, CDOT workers, judicial and correction employees, state workers and troopers. They now earn monthly benefits, which are in turn spent to sustain numerous local businesses.
Additionally, their spending generates a significant amount of local and state sales tax revenue that is supporting essential government services to help us get through the pandemic. In 2019, La Plata County had 1,180 PERA retirees who earned more than $43 million in benefits. If a 1,000-employee company relocated to Durango and paid a similar amount in annual wages, our town would rejoice. That is what PERA is sustaining for us right now! Archuleta County’s 205 PERA retirees earn more than $6 million annually. And San Juan’s 13 retirees earn more than $380,000 in Silverton.
One of the most overlooked feature of PERA is its ability to lessen the dramatic impact of downturns in the economy.
Throughout the Great Recession (2007-09), the Animas River catastrophe (2015), the 416 Fire (2018) and 2020’s pandemic, PERA has been steadily supporting our retirees and by extension local businesses and their employees.
Please support Colorado PERA so it can remain an economic driver in our local economies.