Posts Tagged city lays off half of the Firefighters

Harvey Fire Department news (more)

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On Monday, an appellate court granted a temporary restraining order against the Illinois Comptroller’s decision to withhold $1.4 million from the city of Harvey over its underfunded police and fire pensions.

On Friday, 30 emergency responders police officers and firefighters lost their jobs because the suburb couldn’t pay into the fund. The state comptroller stepped in on behalf of the pension fund and began garnishing city money to make up what Harvey was not contributing.

While certainly not the only Illinois municipality to have pension funding problems, Harvey is the first to have its funds withheld by the comptroller according to Harvey mayor Eric Kellogg.

As a result, under Kellogg’s direction as many a total of 40 police and firefighters were laid off in recent days.

But the temporary restraining order believes Harvey Alderman Christopher Clark who is a political foe of Kellogg’s is just that – temporary and a permanent garnishment of funds in court may come to be until and if it can back on solid financial ground.

“As far as the pension is concerned, it’s a bit conflicting because you want the firefighters and police officers to come back but they should have never been laid off in the first place. At the same time you want the pension fund to be able to have its pension but the overarching issue is the mismanagement of funds which got us to this situation in the first place,” Clark said.

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Harvey Fire Department news (more)

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Thirty Harvey police officers and firefighters got their final paychecks on Friday after losing their jobs to layoffs. The layoffs of 18 firefighters and 13 police officers came after a court ordered pension payment Harvey can’t afford to make.

The people of Harvey have already been worried about their city’s financial crisis. Now they’re worried about their own safety. 

The attorney for the police and firefighter unions said in the worst case of municipal management he’s ever seen, the city hasn’t been funding those pensions properly or at all in the past 10 years.

In Springfield this week, new legislation was proposed that would consolidate municipal fire and police pension funds, as well as create some oversight for those investments.


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Harvey Fire Department news (more)

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The Harvey Firemens Association IAFF Local 471 said the city has laid off half the fire department after the city was ordered to pay its police and fire pension fund. The issue has been a longstanding problem with the fire and police pension funds. After failing to make payments for more than a decade, the city recently began contributing to the pension funds again.

But per state law, Comptroller Susana Mendoza is currently withholding more than $1 million in revenues due to the city to make sure the pension fund is paid. City officials are crying foul, saying the city’s collection rates on property taxes are not enough to sustain government operations, and they need those state funds to operate. But Monday, a judge agreed with the state and the money will be on hold to deal with the pension problem.

The union posted about it on their Facebook page Tuesday afternoon, saying, “The city has laid off 18 firefighters, half the fire department is gone! Prayers for the citizens and families of those laid off.”

Harvey officials held an emergency meeting Monday night with city employees and warned there could be major layoffs due to lack of funds. Officials argue the city has engaged with negotiations with police and fire officials with no resolution.

Tuesday morning, Harvey officials were speaking with the state comptroller’s representatives. The Harvey comptroller said pensions will not be sustainable going forward and Harvey’s city attorney said the city is planning on filing appeal to stop the state from withholding funds. Officials say employees will be paid on Friday, but after that, no one knows if they can pay their bills.

A spokesperson for the comptroller’s office said in a statement Monday, “The legislature passed a law allowing pension funds to certify to our office that municipalities have failed to make required payments to pension funds. The municipality has a chance to respond. A judge ruled today in favor of the Harvey Police Pension Fund, saying the funds were appropriately put on hold. This dispute is between the pension fund and the city of Harvey.”

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