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home : braidwood journal : braidwood journal March 26, 2015

7/1/2014 2:58:00 PM
City's crisis over police pensions
After paying over $2 million to fund officer pensions, city may hold referendum to relieve the burden from general fund
Photo by Tonya MichalecCURRENTLY THE Braidwood Police Department empolys a total of 17 officers and is located at 141 West Main Street and is led by Chief Richard Girot.
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Photo by Tonya Michalec

CURRENTLY THE Braidwood Police Department empolys a total of 17 officers and is located at 141 West Main Street and is led by Chief Richard Girot.
by Tonya Michalec
Staff writer

The City Council is scheduled to vote to place a referendum on the ballot for the next election that will allow the city to subsidize a police pension fund.

City officials and attorney Scott Pyles have been reviewing the possibility of levying a new tax for the police pension fund for the past few years. The levy would relieve the city of the burden of paying into the pension fund from the city's general fund, as it has been doing for the last decade. The city has put roughly $2 million into the pension fund, and owes it almost as much.

The city was required to create a pension plan for police officers in 2003, changing from an Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) to the downstate pension plan. According the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/) all municipalities of 5,000 or more but less than 500,000 inhabitants are mandated to have a solvent pension fund.

While the city had the ability to create a levy to pay for the fund back in 2003, it was never done.

"The city officials could have gotten it on a line item on the tax levy for property taxes that showed as being for the police pension, but they did not do it," said city administrator Rich Girot. "They continued to pay for that pension directly out of the general fund, something that was not done ever before here."

The general fund has been in deficit for all but one of the years since the pension fund was created.

Deputy Chief Donn Kaminski said the city has only covered 52 percent of the police pension so far. It owes the remaining 48 percent, and officers are about to start drawing from the fund.

The officers pay 9.91 percent of their annual income into the fund, but their pensions are based on salary, not including overtime.

"Even if the police department had to close its doors today, the city would still have to pay basically another 2 million dollars of what it still owed by them to the pension," Kaminski said.

Make sure to grab a copy of this week's edition of the Braidwood Journal, or subscribe on-line at www.freepressnewspapers.com, to finish reading the remainder of this article.



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