IL Village Seeks to Privatize Fire Department

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — One of a number of Illinois towns struggling with increasing pension costs wants to save money by shifting control of its fire department to a private company.

North Riverside officials pitched the proposal at a hearing before state regulators in Chicago on Thursday. Mayor Hubert Hermanek says the move could save $700,000 annually.

Illinois Municipal League officials say other cities could try similar solutions when the state begins to enforce increasing pension payments in 2016.

The village was called to the Department of Insurance hearing for underfunding its pensions by $5 million between 2008 and 2012. Records show North Riverside officials didn’t put money into its police and firefighter pension funds in recent years.

Firefighter union officials say the village wasn’t financially responsible and privatization would put residents at risk.

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