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Business, Economics and Finance

Pennsylvania’s municipal pensions are underfunded by $7.7 billion, and here's why

Joe Rosipal, 70, a retired Monroeville police officer, with a photograph of himself in his 40s, when he was part of the motorcycle division.
Irina Zhorov/WESA
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Pennsylvania's pension problem: Joe Rosipal, 70, a retired Monroeville police officer, with a photograph of himself in his 40s, when he was part of the motorcycle division.

Standing in a sun-drenched room, Jim Rosipal pointed to a framed assemblage on the wall. In it, a police officer’s uniform shirt, a medal for valor, a gas cap cover from the Harley Davidson he rode, and valve stem covers in the shape of little pigs. “Back in those days we were called pigs every now and then,” Rosipal said. “Didn’t bother us at all.” 

Rosipal worked for the Monroeville Police Department for 28 years. After serving in the Vietnam War and a brief stint as a security guard, it was his first and last full time job. 

“My dad was a policeman in Patton Township before it became Monroeville,” he said. “My brother was a policeman in Monroeville. So to me it was in my blood. I always wanted to be a policeman, and I always wanted to be a policeman in Monroeville.”   

He retired 18 years ago, when he was 52 years old. He has some income – he performs drug tests, rates golf courses, and drives a hearse—but he relies on his pension for most of his support. “It’s my paycheck for the work that I did do in the past,” he said.

This is the first in a series of stories on Pennsylvania's municipal pensions, which are airing on WPSU this week. Read the full version of this report at the website of Keystone Crossroads, a new statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities. WPSU is a participating station.