128-30. Method of financing.

(a) Funds to Which Assets of Retirement System Credited. - All of the assets of the Retirement System shall be credited according to the purpose for which they are held to one of three funds, namely, the annuity savings fund, the pension accumulation fund, and the expense fund.

(b) Annuity Savings Fund. - The annuity savings fund shall be a fund in which shall be accumulated contributions from the compensation of members to provide for their annuities. Contributions to and payments from the annuity savings fund shall be made as follows:

(1) With respect to compensation paid on and after July 1, 1976, each participating employer shall deduct from the salary of each member on every payroll of the employer for every payroll period, six per centum (6%) of the compensation received by the member. Such rates shall apply uniformly to all members of the Retirement System, irrespective of class.

(2) The deductions provided for herein shall be made notwithstanding that the minimum compensation provided for by law for any member shall be reduced thereby. Every member shall be deemed to consent and agree to the deductions made and provided for herein and shall receipt for his full salary or compensation, and payment of salary or compensation less said deduction shall be a full and complete discharge and acquittance of all claims and demands whatsoever for the services rendered by such person during the period covered by such payment, except as to the benefits provided under this Article. The employer shall certify to the Board of Trustees on each and every payroll or in such other manner as the Board of Trustees may prescribe, the amounts to be deducted; and each of said amounts shall be deducted, and when deducted shall be paid into said annuity savings fund, and shall be credited, together with regular interest thereon to the individual account of the member from whose compensation said deduction was made.

(3) The accumulated contributions of a member drawn by him, or paid to his estate or to his designated beneficiary in event of his death as provided in this Article, shall be paid from the annuity savings fund. Upon the retirement of a member his accumulated contributions shall be transferred from the annuity savings fund to the annuity reserve fund.

(4) The Board of Trustees may approve the purchase of creditable service by any member for leaves of absence or for interrupted service to an employer only for the purpose of acquiring knowledge, talents, or abilities and to increase the efficiency of service to the employer, subject to the provisions of this subdivision. A leave of absence or interrupted service may be approved for purchase under this subdivision for a period of employment as a teacher in a charter school. Any other leave of absence or interrupted service shall qualify for purchase under this subdivision only if (i) during the time of the leave or interrupted service the member is enrolled and participates in a full-time degree program at an accredited institution of higher education, (ii) the member is not paid compensation, other than a stipend resulting from participation in a full-time degree program, for the activity in which he or she is acquiring knowledge, talents, or abilities, and (iii) the service is not purchased for any month in which the member performed any services for any of the organizations listed in G.S. 135-27(a) or G.S. 135-27(f), or a successor to any of those organizations. Approval by the Board under this subdivision shall be made prior to the purchase of the creditable service, is limited to a career total of four years for each member, and may be obtained in the following manner:

a. Approved leave of absence. - Where the employer grants an approved leave of absence, a member may make monthly contributions to the annuity savings fund on the basis of compensation the member was earning immediately prior to such leave of absence. The employer shall make monthly contributions equal to the normal and accrued liability contribution on such compensation or, in lieu thereof, the member may pay into the annuity savings fund monthly an amount equal to the employer's normal and accrued liability contribution when the policy of the employer is not to make such payment.

b. No educational leave policy. - Where the employer has a policy of not granting educational leaves of absence or the member has unsuccessfully petitioned for leave of absence and the member has interrupted service for educational purposes, the member may make monthly contributions into the annuity savings fund in an amount equal to the employee contribution plus the employer normal and accrued liability contribution on the basis of the compensation the member was earning immediately prior to the interrupted service.

c. Educational program prior to July 1, 1981. - Creditable service for leaves of absence or interrupted service for educational purposes prior to July 1, 1981, may be purchased by a member, before or after retirement, who returned as a contributing employee or teacher within 12 months after completing the educational program and completed 10 years of subsequent membership service, by making a lump sum payment into the annuity savings fund equal to the full cost of the service credits calculated on the basis of the assumptions used for purposes of the actuarial valuation of the system's liabilities and shall take into account the retirement allowance arising on account of the additional service credit commencing at the earliest age at which the member could retire on an unreduced retirement allowance as determined by the board of trustees upon the advice of the consulting actuary, plus a fee to be determined by the board of trustees.

Payments required to be made by the member and/or the employer under subparagraphs a or b are due by the 15th of the month following the month for which the service credit is allowed and payments made after the due date shall be assessed a penalty, in lieu of interest, of one percent (1%) per month or fraction thereof the payment is made beyond the due date; provided, that these payments shall be made prior to retirement and provided further, that if the member did not become a contributing member within 12 months after completing the educational program and failed to complete three years of subsequent membership service, except in the event of death or disability, any payment made by the member including penalty shall be refunded with regular interest thereon and the service credits cancelled prior to or at retirement.

(b1) Pick Up of Employee Contributions. - Anything within this section to the contrary notwithstanding, effective July 1, 1982, an employer, pursuant to the provisions of section 414(h)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 as amended, may elect to pick up and pay the contributions which would be payable by the employees as members under subsection (b) of this section with respect to the service of employees after June 30, 1982.

The members' contributions picked up by an employer shall be designated for all purposes of the Retirement System as member contributions, except for the determination of tax upon a distribution from the System. These contributions shall be credited to the annuity savings fund and accumulated within the fund in a member's account which shall be separately established for the purpose of accounting for picked-up contributions.

Member contributions picked up by an employer shall be payable from the same source of funds used for the payment of compensation to a member. A deduction shall be made from a member's compensation equal to the amount of his contributions picked up by his employer. This deduction, however, shall not reduce his compensation as defined in subdivision (7a) of G.S. 128-21. Picked-up contributions shall be transmitted to the System monthly for the preceding month by means of a warrant drawn by the employer and payable to the Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System and shall be accompanied by a schedule of the picked-up contributions on such forms as may be prescribed. In the case of a failure to fulfill these conditions the provisions of subsection (g)(3) of this section shall apply.

(b2) Retroactive Adjustment in Compensation or an Underreporting of Compensation. - A member or beneficiary who is awarded backpay in cases of a denied promotional opportunity or wrongful demotion in which the aggrieved member or beneficiary is granted a promotion or a demotion is reversed retroactively, or in cases in which an employer errs in the reporting of compensation, including the employee and employer contributions, the member or beneficiary and employer may make employee and employer contributions on the retroactive or additional compensation after submitting clear and convincing evidence of the retroactive promotion or underreporting of compensation, as follows:

(1) Within 90 days of the denial of the promotion or the error in reporting, by the payment of employee and employer contributions that would have been paid; or

(2) After 90 days of the denial of the promotion or the error in reporting, by the payment of the employee and employer contributions that would have been paid plus interest compounded annually at a rate equal to the greater of the average yield on the pension accumulation fund for the preceding calendar year or the actuarial investment rate-of-return assumption, as adopted by the Board of Trustees.

For members or beneficiaries electing to make the employee contributions on the retroactive adjustment in compensation or on the underreported compensation, the member's or beneficiary's employer, which granted the retroactive promotion or erred in underreporting compensation and contributions, shall make the required employer contributions. Nothing contained in this subsection shall prevent an employer from paying all or a part of the interest assessed on the employee contributions; and to the extent paid by the employer, the interest paid by the employer shall be credited to the pension accumulation fund; provided, however, an employer does not discriminate against any member or beneficiary or group of members or beneficiaries in his employ in paying all or any part of the interest assessed on the employee contributions due.

In the event the retroactive adjustment in compensation or the underreported compensation is for a period that occurs during the four consecutive calendar years that would have produced the highest average annual compensation pursuant to G.S. 135-1(5), the compensation the member or beneficiary would have received during the period shall be included in calculating the member's or beneficiary's average final compensation only in the event the appropriate employee and employer contributions are paid on such compensation.

An employer error in underreporting compensation shall not include a retroactive increase in compensation that occurs during the four consecutive calendar years that would have produced the highest average annual compensation pursuant to G.S. 135-1(5), for reasons other than a wrongfully denied promotional opportunity or wrongful demotion where the member is promoted or the demotion is reversed retroactively.

(c) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(g), effective June 30, 2017.

(d) Pension Accumulation Fund. - The pension accumulation fund shall be the fund in which shall be accumulated all reserves for the payment of all pensions and other benefits payable from contributions made by employers and from which shall be paid all pensions and other benefits on account of members with prior service credit. Contributions to and payments from the pension accumulation fund shall be made as follows:

(1) Each participating employer shall pay to the pension accumulation fund monthly, or at such other intervals as may be agreed upon with the Board of Trustees, an amount equal to a certain percentage of the actual compensation of each member, to be known as the "normal contribution" and an additional amount equal to a percentage of the member's actual compensation to be known as the "accrued liability contribution." The rate per centum of such contributions shall be fixed on the basis of the liabilities of the Retirement System as shown by actuarial valuation and duly approved by the Board of Trustees, which shall be called the "actuarially determined employer contribution rate."

(2) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(i), effective June 30, 2017.

(2a) The actuarially determined employer contribution rate shall be calculated annually by the actuary using assumptions and a cost method approved by the Actuarial Standards Board of the American Academy of Actuaries and selected by the Board of Trustees.

(3) The "past service liability contribution" shall be set for each employer on the basis of the prior service credits allowable to the employees thereof, who are entitled to prior service certificates, and shall be paid for a period of approximately 30 years, provided that the length of the period of payment for each employer after contributions begin shall be determined by the Board of Trustees as the result of actuarial valuations.

(4) Upon the date of participation for each employer, the past service liability payable by such employer shall be set, by deducting from the present value of the total liability for all pensions payable on account of all members and pensioners of the System who became participants through service for such employer, the present value of the future normal contributions payable, and the amount of any assets resulting from any contributions previously made by such employer. Then the "past service liability contribution rate" for such employer shall be the per centum of the total annual compensation of all members employed by the employer which is estimated to extinguish the liability in 24 years.

(5) Notwithstanding Chapter 150B of the General Statutes, the total amount payable in each year to the pension accumulation fund shall not be less than the sum of the rate per centum known as the actuarially determined employer contribution rate and the past service liability contribution rate of the total earned compensation of all members during the preceding year as adjusted under a contribution rate policy adopted by the Board of Trustees and known as the "required employer contribution rate." The Board of Trustees shall not adopt a contribution rate policy that results in a rate less than the normal contribution rate.

(6) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(i), effective June 30, 2017.

(7) All pensions, and benefits in lieu thereof, with the exception of those payable on account of members who received no prior service allowance, payable from contributions of employers, shall be paid from the pension accumulation fund.

(8) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(i), effective June 30, 2017.

(9) Notwithstanding Chapter 150B of the General Statutes and the foregoing provisions of this subsection, the actuary shall determine an additional "accrued liability contribution rate" and a "normal contribution rate" on account of the total earned compensation of each employer's law enforcement officers each year, known as the "required employer contribution for law enforcement officers rate." The required employer contribution for law enforcement officers rate may be adjusted under a contribution rate policy adopted by the Board of Trustees and added to the employers' past service liability rate. The Board of Trustees shall not adopt a contribution rate policy that results in a rate less than the normal contribution rate.

(10) For fiscal years beginning subsequent to January 1, 2017, the sum of the "normal contribution" and the "accrued liability contribution" shall not be less than the employee contribution required under subsection (b) of this section.

(e) Repealed by Session Laws 2017-129, s. 2(k), effective June 30, 2017.

(f) Expense Fund. - The expense fund shall be the fund from which the expenses of the administration of the Retirement System shall be paid, exclusive of amounts payable as retirement allowances and as other benefits provided herein. Contribution shall be made to the expense fund as follows:

(1) The Board of Trustees shall determine annually the amount required to defray such administrative expenses for the ensuing fiscal year and shall adopt a budget in accordance therewith. The budget estimate of such expenses shall be paid to the expense fund from the pension accumulation fund.

(2) For the purpose of organizing the Retirement System and establishing an office, the Board of Trustees may provide as a prerequisite to participation in the Retirement System that each participating employer or employee or both shall pay an additional contribution to the Retirement System for the expense fund not to exceed two dollars ($2.00) for each employee, such contribution of the employee to be credited to his individual account in the annuity savings fund at such later time as the Board of Trustees shall determine, and/or the Board of Trustees may borrow such amounts as may be necessary to organize and establish the Retirement System.

(g) Collection of Contributions. -

(1) The collection of members' contributions shall be as follows:

a. Each employer shall cause to be deducted on each and every payroll of a member for each and every payroll subsequent to the date of participation in the Retirement System the contributions payable by such member as provided in this Article. Each employer shall certify to the treasurer of said employer on each and every payroll a statement as vouchers for the amount so deducted.

b. The treasurer of each employer on the authority from the employer shall make deductions from salaries of members as provided in this Article and shall transmit monthly, or at such time as the Board of Trustees shall designate, the amount specified to be deducted, to the secretary-treasurer of the Board of Trustees. The secretary-treasurer of the Board of Trustees after making a record of all such receipts shall deposit them in a bank or banks selected by said Board of Trustees for use according to the provisions of this Article.

(2) The collections of employers' contributions shall be made as follows:

a. Upon the basis of each actuarial valuation provided herein the Board of Trustees shall annually prepare and certify to each employer a statement of the total amount necessary for the ensuing fiscal year to the pension accumulation fund as provided under subsection (d) of this section. Such employer contributions shall be transmitted to the secretary-treasurer of the Board of Trustees together with the employee deductions as provided under sub-subdivision b. of subdivision (1) of this subsection.

b. Each employer shall transmit to the Retirement System on account of each member who retires on or after January 1, 2015, having earned his or her last month of membership service as an employee of that employer the lump sum payment, as calculated under G.S. 128-26(y) for inclusion in the Pension Accumulation Fund, that would have been necessary in order for the retirement system to restore the member's retirement allowance to the pre-cap amount. Employers are not required to make contributions on account of any retiree who became a member on or after January 1, 2015, and who earned at least five years of membership service in the Retirement System after January 1, 2015. The retirement allowance of a member with a final average compensation of more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), as hereinafter indexed, shall not be subject to the contribution-based benefit cap if the compensation was earned from multiple simultaneous employers, unless an employer's share of the average final compensation exceeds one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000). An employer is not required to make contributions on account of any retiree whose final average compensation exceeds one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), as hereinafter indexed, based upon compensation earned from multiple simultaneous employers, unless that employer's share of the average final compensation exceeds one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), as provided and indexed under G.S. 128-27(a3).

Under such rules as the Board of Trustees shall adopt, the Retirement System shall report monthly to each employer a list of those members for whom the employer made a contribution to the Retirement System in the preceding month that are most likely to require an additional employer contribution should they elect to retire in the following 12 months, if applicable.

(3) In the event the employee or employer contributions required under this section are not received by the date set by the Board of Trustees and provided that a one-time exception has not been agreed upon in advance due to exigent circumstances, the Board shall assess the employer with a penalty, in lieu of interest, of 1% per month with a minimum penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25.00). The Board may waive one penalty per employer every five years if the Board finds that the employer has consistently demonstrated good-faith efforts to comply with the set deadline. If within 90 days after request therefor by the Board any employer shall not have provided the System with the records and other information required hereunder or if the full accrued amount of the contributions provided for under this section due from members employed by an employer or from an employer shall not have been received by the System from the chief fiscal officer of such employer within 30 days after the last due date as herein provided, then, notwithstanding anything herein or in the provisions of any other law to the contrary, upon notification by the Board to the State Treasurer as to the default of such employer as herein provided, any distributions which might otherwise be made to such employer, or the municipality or county of which such employer is an integral part, from any funds of the State or any funds collected by the State shall be withheld from such employer until notice from the Board to the State Treasurer that such employer is no longer in default.

In the event that an employer fails to submit payment of any required contributions or payments to the Retirement Systems Division, other than the one percent (1%) payment provided for in the first paragraph of this subdivision, within 90 days after the date set by the Board of Trustees, the Board shall notify the State Treasurer of its intent to collect the delinquent contributions and other payments due to the Retirement Systems Division and request an interception of State appropriations due to the participating employer. Upon such notification by the Board of Trustees to the State Treasurer and the Office of State Budget and Management as to the default of the employer, the Office of State Budget and Management shall withhold from any State appropriation due to that employer an amount equal to the sum of all delinquent contributions and other debts due to the Retirement Systems Division and shall transmit that amount to the Retirement Systems Division.

(4) In conjunction with the employee and employer contributions required under this section, the Board of Trustees shall direct employers to submit such information on a monthly basis as is necessary for proper administration of the Retirement System, actuarial valuation, and reporting under accounting standards set forth by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board of the Financial Accounting Foundation. Submission of such information by an employer to the Retirement System constitutes a certification of its accuracy.

(h) Merger of Annuity Reserve Fund, and Pension Reserve Fund into Pension Accumulation Fund. - Notwithstanding the foregoing, effective at such date not later than December 31, 1959, as the Board of Trustees shall determine, the annuity reserve fund and the pension reserve fund shall be merged into and become a part of the pension accumulation fund, provided that such merger shall in no way adversely affect the rights of any members or retired members of the System and further provided the Board of Trustees shall be and hereby is authorized to make such changes in the accounting methods and procedures of the System from time to time as, in its opinion, are in the interest of sound and proper administration of the System.

(i) Procedure and Payment to Cease Participation. - Any employing unit that is allowed to cease participation in the Retirement System by the General Assembly shall do the following:

(1) The employer shall notify its employees and the Board of Trustees, in writing, of its action. A withdrawing employer shall be required to make a lump-sum withdrawal liability payment to the Board of Trustees as provided by this section.

(2) Complete withdrawal by an employer shall be the first day of the month following the date the Board of Trustees receives the employer's written notification. However, the complete withdrawal date shall not occur before the withdrawal liability is determined, as provided in subdivision (5) of this subsection.

(3) After complete withdrawal, all employees of the withdrawing employer shall be ineligible to accrue future benefits with the Retirement System due to employment with the withdrawing employer.

(4) All active or inactive members of the employer shall be eligible for benefits accrued with the Retirement System up to the complete withdrawal date. However, no retirement allowance or return of accumulated contributions shall be paid until the member actually terminates employment and completely separates from active service with the withdrawing employer, and there is no intent or agreement, express or implied, to return to service with the withdrawing employer.

(5) On the date of complete withdrawal, the withdrawal liability of an employer is the greater of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or the amount determined by a. multiplied by the ratio of b. to c., as follows:

a. The excess of the actuarial present value of the vested accrued benefits of the Retirement System's members over the market value of its assets, both as of the date of the last actuarial valuation adopted by the Board of Trustees prior to the complete withdrawal date based on the plan provisions and actuarial assumptions used in the last actuarial valuation adopted by the Board of Trustees prior to the complete withdrawal date, except the interest rate assumption shall be reduced by an amount determined by the consulting actuary to reflect the increased investment, mortality, and other actuarial risk for the exiting agency's participants.

b. The total present value of accrued benefits of all active members of the withdrawing employer as of the last actuarial valuation adopted by the Board of Trustees prior to the complete withdrawal date.

c. The total present value of accrued benefits of all active members of the Retirement System as of the last actuarial valuation adopted by the Board of Trustees prior to the complete withdrawal date.

(6) The actuarial costs to determine the amount described in subdivision (5) of this subsection shall be paid by the withdrawing employer. An employer that does not pay the lump-sum withdrawal liability payment described in subdivision (5) of this subsection and the actuarial costs to determine this withdrawal liability within 90 days of the complete withdrawal date will continue to be a participating employer.

(7) Upon the complete withdrawal of the employer, the Retirement System shall have no further legal obligation to the employer or its employees, nor shall the Retirement System be held accountable for the continued future accrual of any retirement benefit rights to which the employees may be entitled beyond the complete withdrawal date. Any litigation regarding the forfeiture of any benefits because of the employer's complete withdrawal from the Retirement System shall be the sole legal responsibility of the withdrawing employer, and the withdrawing employer shall indemnify and hold harmless the Retirement System, its Board of Trustees, its employees, and the State of North Carolina from any claims, losses, costs, damages, expenses, and liabilities, including, without limitation, court costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees asserted by any person or entity as a result of the employer's withdrawal from the Retirement System.

(j) Pension Spiking Report. - Upon receipt of a report from the Retirement System generated pursuant to G.S. 128-30(g)(2)b., containing a list of employees for whom the employer made a contribution to the North Carolina Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System that is likely to require an additional employer contribution should the employee elect to retire in the following 12 months, the employer's chief financial officer shall transmit a copy of the report to the governing body of the employer, if applicable. (1939, c. 390, s. 10; 1941, c. 357, s. 8; 1943, c. 535; 1945, c. 526, s. 6; 1951, c. 274, ss. 7-9; 1955, c. 1153, s. 7; 1959, c. 491, s. 9; 1965, c. 781; 1967, c. 978, ss. 9, 10; 1971, c. 325, ss. 17-19; 1975, 2nd Sess., c. 983, ss. 129, 130; 1981, c. 1000, ss. 1, 3; 1981 (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1282, s. 9; 1985, c. 479, s. 196(p)-(r); c. 539, ss. 1, 2; 1991, c. 585, s. 2; 1995, c. 509, s. 68; 2003-359, s. 20; 2009-66, s. 7(b); 2010-72, s. 8(b); 2012-178, s. 3; 2014-88, s. 1(f); 2014-112, s. 2(b); 2015-164, ss. 5(b), 6(b); 2015-168, s. 3(b); 2016-56, ss. 6(b), 7(b); 2017-125, s. 2(b); 2017-128, ss. 4(c), 8(b); 2017-129, ss. 2(c), (d), (g), (i), (k); 2018-52, s. 9(b); 2018-85, s. 13.)