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TRS Newsbreak:
December 2018, Issue 120

December 1, 2018

Report From The Field

Joshua Hartman

Joshua Hartman is a Regional Retirement Counselor for the Juneau area and has been working for the State of Alaska since April 2018. Before he was promoted to a Retirement Counselor, he was a Technician with the Member Services Contact Center. Joshua graduated from Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.

Joshua enjoys spending time with his family and friends, reading, hiking, and playing board games. He also enjoys cooking, especially barbecuing, as well as smoking pulled pork, brisket and cheese. “There is never a bad time of the day to eat a cheeseburger or a good sandwich!”

Joshua previously worked as a business manager of a Fortune 500 company specializing in construction, engineering, and mining services. In early 2015, the opportunity to move to Juneau presented itself, and he came to work at a poly-metallic mine as a human resources generalist.

As a counselor, Joshua believes empathy and listening are important skills for any conversation. His advice to all members preparing for retirement and to those already enjoying it is, “Have a plan! Decide where you want to be and what you want to do and start now to prepare accordingly!” He believes the most enjoyable aspect of his job is working with people, including his co-workers as well as the members he assists.

Retirees In Touch:

Meet David Bunzow, Enjoying Nomadic Retirement

Mr. David Bunzow spent just five years living and working in Alaska, but those five years had a lasting impact that he and his family have carried with them on all their nomadic adventures since.

“The ensuing years after living in Alaska have been nomadic because there are many wonderful adventures that my time at UAF allowed me to further develop and prosper as a science mentor – a role for which I shall always be grateful. Thank you, Alaska!!”

When asked his best piece of advice for someone planning to retire, he says to first start younger than you think you need to. “I began working in high technology when I was just 16 years old. I was too young to realize the importance of saving or planning for retirement,” he says. And secondly, get a good book you trust. His recommendation: “How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free,” by Ernie J. Zelinksi. ”I was so captured by it that I began to focus on preparing for all the great things retirement could offer,” David raves. “The promise from the author ‘...advice you won’t get from your financial adviser’ has been the best guidance I could offer anyone! Read this book–and prepare for the best part of your life!”

Where has their post-retirement nomadic life led the Bunzow family? Here is a little more about David’s story, in his own words.

“The five years my family and I spent living in Fairbanks while working for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the State of Alaska are forever etched in our memories. During that time, my wife, Dr. Debra Bartelt, worked as an adjunct instructor for undergraduate microbiology classes while I spent time first as the EH&S manager at the State, and later as Associate Director at the Office of Electronic Miniaturization. There, we attempted to establish a vibrant high technology enterprise on the “Silicon Tundra,” thanks to earmark funding (remember those days?) enabled through bipartisan support of technology development for underrepresented states by the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and former Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

From 2001-2006, we mostly enjoyed our time in Alaska (winters proved particularly difficult–but even those had their beautiful moments!) and became involved in student education in the sciences and art. Our daughter, Sarah Bartelt, was enrolled in Woodriver Elementary where she made many new friends and lifelong relationships that endure even today.

The three of us left Alaska in late 2006 when funding for OEM evaporated. We relocated to Fargo, ND to continue building on high tech relationships that started at UAF. For the next two years, I worked as the Associate Director for Operations and Facilities at their Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), North Dakota State University’s equivalent to OEM. When their government funds also dried up, I was again on the move in support of my country, technology career, and family–including felines!

From 2008-2013, I became a senior Program Manager at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Molecular Foundry, a fundemental research facility fully funded by U.S. Department of Energy. During my tenure there, I was honored to have worked with hundreds of scientists including several Nobel Prize winners (11 were at LBNL) and their colleagues who worked in nanotechnology, helping to make discoveries that when scaled up would allow energy efficiencies for both the U.S. and many foreign countries. I’m proud to say that many more future Nobel Prize recipients likely passed through this wonderful institution.

After a second retirement in 2013, I started my own tutoring business to share our family’s background in the sciences and math with aspiring students of all ages, first Bend, OR, then Fargo, ND and now in Boise, ID. Currently, Debra runs a foster home for rescue of felines in the Fargo, ND; a feline population of 10-15 fosters is supplemented by 6 of her own cats, several which were adopted while living in Fairbanks. Our daughter Sarah is a junior at North Dakota State University majoring in business accounting while working as a customer service representative for a local car sales dealership. She has returned to Alaska on multiple trips to see her friends and explore the general Alaskan beauty. As for me, I do work as a volunteer at a Boise high school helping advanced placement science students learn the joys of scientific investigation as well as preparing them for their academic studies at colleges and universities anywhere in the U.S by tutoring them in the sciences, math, and writing.

All of us will forever be grateful for the time and adventures we enjoyed while being a living part of the Last Frontier. Come visit us in the Lower 48 if you are in the neighborhood!”

The TRS Fiscal Year 2018

The Division of Retirement and Benefits (Division) prepares a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) which is available online. The Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) CAFR provides comprehensive financial, investment, actuarial, and statistical data.

The Division also posts the results of the annual actuarial valuation online. This report contains the funding status of the TRS, as well as the data, assumptions, and methods used to develop contribution rate recommendations. As of June 30, 2017, the date of the latest actuarial valuation, the Defined Benefit Unfunded Accrued Liability was $1,830,981,000.

TRS Defined Benefit Plan (DB) includes a defined benefit pension plan and the Alaska retiree healthcare trust. TRS Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (DCR) includes a defined contribution pension plan, an occupational death and disability plan, a healthcare reimbursement arrangement, and a retiree medical plan.

A summary of the TRS Financial Statements as of June 30, 2018 is reported below:

  • There were 57 TRS employers.
  • At June 30, 2017, there were 4,772 TRS DB Plan employees and 4,694 TRS DCR Plan employees.
  • TRS employers paid 12.56% of each employee’s gross salary in addition to the contributions paid by the covered employees. The State paid an additional $111,757,000 to meet the actuarially determined contribution rate of 26.78%.
  • Based on the June 30, 2017 actuarial valuation, there were 12,983 people who received monthly TRS pension benefits, an increase of 2.0% over the prior year. TRS retirees and beneficiaries received an average annual pension benefit of $35,156.

  • Changes in TRS Assets During Fiscal Year 2018
    Defined BenefitDefined Contribution
    Fiduciary Net Position on June 30, 2017$8,069,927,000$494,033,000
    Employer Contributions$59,140,000$37,810,000
    Plan Member Contributions$37,674,000$28,831,000
    State of Alaska Contributions$111,757,000-
    Net Investment Income$657,363,000$46,229,000
    Total Additions$874,212,000$113,005,000
    Pension Benefits Paid$456,427,000-
    Healthcare Benefits Paid$134,051,000$91,000
    Member Refunds and Disbursements$2,084,000$11,135,000
    Administrative Expenses$8,715,000$1,252,000
    Total Deductions$601,277,000$12,478,000
    Fiduciary Net Position on June 30, 2018$8,342,862,000$594,560,000
    Statement of TRS Assets as of June 30, 2018
    Defined BenefitDefined Contribution
    Short-Term Investments$48,356,000$12,859,000
    Securities Lending Collateral30,039,000$516,000
    Empower Account-$328,000
    Other Receivables$8,632,000$4,987,000
    Investments, at Fair Value$8,301,539,000$587,153,000
    Other Assets$318,000-
    Total Assets$8,388,884,000$605,843,000
    Securities Lending Collateral Payable$30,039,000$517,000
    Accrued Expenses and Other Liabilities$15,983,000$10,766,000
    Total Liabilities$46,022,000$11,283,000
    Fiduciary Net Position on June 30, 2018$8,342,862,000$594,560,000

    The Anchorage Office of Retirement and Benefits Has Relocated

    On August 17, 2018, the Retirement and Benefits Anchorage office relocated to a new suite in the Robert B. Atwood Building. You can now find it in Suite 1200 at 550 W. 7th Avenue. This location is by appointment only. Walk-in times are from 12-1:30 p.m. For more information on scheduling an appointment at this location, please visit the Division website at

    Not sure if you should walk in or schedule an appointment?

    Walk-ins should be used to submit or pick up forms, or for very quick questions expected to take less than ten minutes. If you need a review of your retirement or have many questions that will take more than ten minutes, it would be more beneficial for you to make an in-person or teleconference appointment by utilizing the Online Counselor Scheduler available here.

    2019 Retiree Benefit Mailing Dates

    Retiree benefits will be mailed on the following dates in 2019:

  • January 25
  • February 25
  • March 21
  • April 25
  • May 23
  • June 25
  • July 25
  • August 22
  • September 25
  • October 24
  • November 25
  • December 23
  • The mailing date is also the date that funds are available from your financial institution. If you would like to have your benefit directly deposited, complete the Electronic Direct Deposit Authorization for Retirees form and return it to the Alaska Division of Retirement and Benefits. You can find the form here.

    The information provided on this page may or may not be up-to-date. If you are unsure, please contact us.

    Page Last Modified: 05/12/22 18:53:27

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