The pension funds of many municipal public safety agencies in Illinois are experiencing extreme shortfalls in their funding. | Pixabay
Municipalities across Illinois are struggling to maintain the pensions of their public safety entities as the funds continue to shrink.
East St. Louis and Granite City are just two of the cities that have fallen short of funding their police and fire pensions. In East St. Louis, the firefighters' fund sustained a shortfall of $2.2 million in fiscal year (FY) 2017 and FY 2018. Policy watchdog Wirepoints reported that the city’s police pension was short by $1.7 million for the same time span.
Granite City’s police pension is only 29 percent funded, and its fire fund is even lower at 21 percent.
Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton
“Incrementally, each year we’ve added about $200,000 in total to those pensions,” Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton told the Metro East Sun in reference to his city.
Edwardsville, which is in the same region as East St. Louis and Granite City, has increased its contributions to these funds during the past five years but the city’s funding percentage position has worsened, Patton said.
“In terms of our annual contribution, we pay $900,000 a year to those pensions . . . and that’s an annual increase on top of what we were contributing back in 2014,” Patton said.
The mayor said Edswardsville's pension fund woes are a great concern to the community, and a police and fire pension task force has been formed. They are two meetings into a two-month review and will report their findings to the city council in November.
The Illinois Comptroller has already intercepted the tax revenues of three cities on behalf of pension fund trustees.
Wirepoints noted that the pension issue in Illinois is only in its initial stage with nearly 200 of the state’s 650 public safety pensions less than 50 percent funded and, regardless of the country’s robust economy and strong stock market, the pension funds are still floundering.