State's Next Pension Issue: Police and Fire Funds

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Mayors across Illinois are demanding that state lawmakers address serious shortfalls in local police and fire pension funds. The effort comes after the Illinois Legislature dealt with the state’s own pension problem last year.

Local officials say increasing police and fire pension costs are forcing them to cut services and lay off employees. They say the costs will burden local taxpayers.

Cities are required to pay increasing amounts into these pension funds or they’ll lose state funding in 2016. State law requires all police and fire pension funds to reach 90 percent funding by 2040.

City officials and unions disagree over blame for the problem. Some officials question levels of worker benefits. Union officials cite recent compromises and blame cities for bad choices in shirking payments.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois lawmakers are under pressure from mayors across the state to help solve a looming crisis over underfunded police and firefighter pension funds. Below is a list of the state’s ten largest cities by size, the amount of each city’s combined debt to its police and fire pension funds and the percentage of funding by each city.

1. Chicago: $10 billion. Police fund at 29 percent, firefighter fund at 24 percent.
2. Aurora: $220 million. Combined, about 50 percent. .
3. Rockford: $180 million. Combined, about 60 percent.
4. Joliet: $253 million. Combined, about 50 percent.
5. Naperville: $100 million. Around 70 percent.
6. Springfield: $227 million. Between 45 and 55 percent.
7. Peoria: $158 million. Combined, about 60 percent.
8. Elgin: $136 million. About 40 to 50 percent.
9. Waukegan: $131 million. Both about 40 percent.
10. Cicero: $111 million. Fire pension about 33 percent, police at 48 percent.

Sources: Municipal police and fire pension fund actuarial valuation reports, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability January 2013 report, the Illinois Department of Insurance 2013 Public Pension Report.

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