Archive for March 24th, 2019

Illinois Pension Reform

Excerpts from Pekintimes.com:

Illinois lawmakers resumed discussion Thursday of a topic that has come up numerous times before — consolidating the state’s 656 local downstate police and firefighter pension funds into a single system. Although the idea has floated around the Capitol for some time, it is getting help this year from Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, who appointed a task force in February to study the issue.

Outside the task force, the Illinois Municipal League and a coalition of communities in the northwest suburbs of Chicago have been leading the charge, offering as many as seven different alternatives they argue would save their taxpayers money and improve the financial condition of those retirement systems.

Currently, there is one pension fund for downstate nonuniformed municipal workers called the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, or IMRF. But the communities outside of Chicago that operate full-time, paid police and fire departments all have separate retirement funds for those employees, each with its own board of trustees and administrative staff.

Of all the public pension funds in Illinois, IMRF is in the best financial shape, with a 90 percent-funded ratio. That, however, is because state law requires local governments to make their required contributions each year, even if that means raising property taxes or cutting funding for other public services.

Until a few years ago, that was not the case with police and firefighter pension funds, which have often gone underfunded during lean years for local governments. In addition, officials said, public safety pension funds have been further limited because of statutory restrictions on the types of investments they are allowed to make. As a result, officials said, the downstate police and firefighter pension funds are, on average, only about 55-percent funded.

Proponents claim that consolidating the funds would save local governments a combined $21 million a year in administrative costs alone, or about $1,000 per-member, money that could be added to the pension pool instead. In addition, a single, large pension fund like IMRF would have more flexibility to diversify its investments and thus help protect the fund from losses due to a downturn in any one segment of the economy.

If the 69 public safety funds operated by communities in the Northwest Municipal Conference had earned the same kind of returns that IMRF saw over a 12-year period from 2003 to 2015, those assets might have grown by an additional $978 million.

That means the unfunded liability of those funds, estimated at $2 billion in 2016, would have been cut roughly in half, from a little over $2 billion to just over $1 billion, without raising local taxes, she said. And those funds would have gone from being 61-percent funded to being 80-percent funded.

The Northwest Municipal Conference and Illinois Municipal League put forth several options for consolidation. Those include merging all the funds into the IMRF and allowing the IMRF board to manage investments as well as day-to-day administrative duties; setting up a separate statewide system to manage only downstate police and fire pensions; having a single fund and allowing the existing local trustees or local governing bodies to make day-to-day administrative decisions; and setting up two separate statewide plans – one for police and one for firefighters. Officials in charge of those local pension funds, as well as many of their members, said they remain skeptical to the idea of consolidating.

Among the concerns that the local funds and their members have is the cost of transitioning from 656 funds into a single fund, estimated to be as high as $150 million. The president of the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association, said that would be a cost that could take as long as 10 years to pay off.

Lawmakers are unlikely to take any action, at least until Gov. Pritzker’s task force issues its report and recommendations later this year.

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Burn down in McHenry, IL 3-15-19

This from Steve Redick:

Took this in on Friday (3/15/19). A clubhouse/restaurant at the Chapel Hill Golf Club. Unusual to see a building this large used as a burn down. I believe they had been conducting numerous evolutions here previously and Friday was the burn down to aid in the demolition of the building. I don’t believe anything will be erected in its place. No real firefighting operations to see but I did get to observe some amazing fire behavior and conditions. The collapse of the front entrance overhang was unusual, but I missed it and only got the aftermath. It was interesting to see the tanker setup although it really wasn’t utilized much. The video and all the images can be seen here:
 
Steve
the vacant Chapel Hill Golf Club in McHenry, IL burned down by the fire department after using it for training

Tim Olk photo

the vacant Chapel Hill Golf Club in McHenry, IL burned down by the fire department after using it for training

Steve Redick photo

the vacant Chapel Hill Golf Club in McHenry, IL burned down by the fire department after using it for training

Steve Redick photo

the vacant Chapel Hill Golf Club in McHenry, IL burned down by the fire department after using it for training

Tim Olk photo

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As seen around … Burbank

This from Keith Grzadziel: 

Here is a shot of Burbank’s other new ambulance shown here assisting Bridgeview. 

Burbank (IL) FD ambulance

Keith Grzadziel photo

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As seen around … Maywood

This from Steve Redick:

A few rig shots from the box in Maywood on 3/15/19. I gotta say the new truck is really sharp

Maywood FD Engine 507

Steve Redick photo

Maywood FD Truck 502

Steve Redick photo

Maywood FD Engine 507

Steve Redick photo

Maywood FD Engine 507

Steve Redick photo

Stone Park FD Squad 21

Steve Redick photo

Stone Park FD Squad 21 decal

Steve Redick photo

Stone Park FD Squad 21

Steve Redick photo

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