Nevada retirement board to appeal ruling to release pension records

CARSON CITY — The state retirement board voted Tuesday to appeal a judge’s order requiring it to release the names and pension information of tens of thousands of retired public workers.

The Public Employees Retirement System board, after meeting briefly in a closed session, agreed unanimously in a public vote to appeal the case to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Chris Nielsen, the board’s general counsel, said the legal issues go beyond the suit filed against PERS by conservative group Nevada Policy Research Institute, and the high court could provide “black and white guidance” on how to balance confidentiality statutes and public information.

Chairman Mark Vincent agreed, saying local governments could be “barraged” to create reports to satisfy public records requests. He also said he was concerned about retirees, many of whom are elderly and “vulnerable” if personal information is revealed.

“I kind of feel like we have an obligation to continue on,” Vincent said.

NPRI sued the system seeking detailed information on public employee retirees for the 2014 fiscal year. In 2013, the state Supreme Court, in a case brought by Reno Newspapers, ruled that individual retiree folders were confidential but information in them was not. The court also said an agency is not compelled to create a separate report but can do so at its own discretion.

District Judge James Wilson, in a Jan. 24 ruling, said he believed PERS altered its procedures after the Supreme Court ruling to omit names from reports to avoid complying with information requests.

He ordered PERS to create a document for 2014 that contains retiree names, years of service credit, gross pension benefit amount, year of retirement and last employer.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.