Mayors from across the state are jumping on the pension reform bandwagon. Some 30 mayors are expressing their concerns about public safety pension that are largely under-funded. Unlike public works employees, whose pensions are handled by the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, police and fire personnel in most cities and towns across the state have their own pension system through the municipality.
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There are 638 separate police and fire pension funds across the state. Wilmette Mayor Christopher Canning says the state legislature should look at consolidating the funds. “If we can take the inefficiencies out of that 638 funds into one fund, drive down operating expenses, we believe that the funds will be in better shape and you also …can get into better investment opportunities,” Canning said.
Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer says about 50 percent of the $6.6 million that the city collects in annual property taxes will go towards paying police and fire pensions this year. He too says it’s time to look into consolidation “Reducing the skyrocketing costs of public safety pensions is the No. 1 issue for municipalities across Illinois,” Eisenhauer said. “Pension costs are overwhelming our budgets when we have already cut to the bone as a result of the recession.”
Chicago, which is not included in Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, has its own pension problems and has asked state legislators to lend a hand in fixing them.