A rebounding stock market will provide a break for municipalities in the form of lowered local pension costs, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said Tuesday.

The percentage of payroll that municipalities have to dedicate to public employee pensions will drop in the 2015-16 fiscal year, from 20.1 percent of salary to 18.2 percent for most employees, DiNapoli announced.

For police and firefighters, who are generally higher-paid and enjoy more generous pensions, the rate will drop from 27.6 percent of payroll to 24.7 percent.

The lower bills won’t be due until the end of 2015. The new state fiscal year begins in April.

“New York’s pension fund is well-funded, is steadily recovering and will continue to meet its obligation to our more than one million Retirement System members and retirees,” DiNapoli said in a statement about the costs.

The state’s general pension fund was recently valued at a record $180.7 billion.

Some, though, cautioned about future costs. “The state pension system remains a ticking time bomb,” the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon wrote in his group’s blog, NY Torch.

He fears that a new stock market downturn will force localities ranging from towns to school districts to raise taxes to make up the difference. Public pensions are protected by law against reductions.

“When the cycle inevitably turns down again, taxpayers will again be holding the bag,” McMahon wrote.

© 2014 Albany Times Union

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