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CHARLESTON – The state’s official supplemental retirement plan has more than doubled in the number of participants and experienced an 82 percent total asset increase since State Treasurer John Perdue’s office assumed administration in July of 2006.

West Virginia Retirement Plus, a 457 plan serving public employees, now shows 12,924 participants, up from only 5,022 six years ago. It boasts approximately $124,000 in total assets, as opposed to $68,000 in 2006.

The recently concluded fiscal year was another productive one. The cities of Morgantown and Chester, among others, made the plan available to their employees, while Nitro took it a step further – it is the only participant in the plan which features automatic enrollment of new employees.

“There is one reason and one reason only for the success of Retirement Plus,” Treasurer Perdue said, “and that is hard work. I’m proud of the work my staff, in conjunction with fund manager ING, has done to boost awareness and promote the advantages of the plan.”

New municipal hires at Nitro will be automatically enrolled in the 457 plan unless they choose to opt out within 30 days. This means that upon hiring, an employee selects an amount to be withdrawn from his or her paycheck, to supplement whatever retirement plan is already in place. Those withdrawals are guided into an investment plan chosen by the employee.

Nitro is the first entity of any kind in the plan to implement automatic enrollment. That includes 56 municipalities, 48 counties and eight boards of education. Another 45 political subdivisions of varying stripes also participate.

West Virginia Retirement Plus implemented automatic enrollment in July 2007 for new state employees, but other municipalities, counties and entities must set their own policy on the issue.

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