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Illinois Policy Institute Audit: Local Pension Funding for Police and Firefighters Will Bring Higher Property Taxes

Fri February 28 2014 7:03 pm
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According to the Illinois Policy Institute, it is not just Illinois’ collapsing state pension systems that is a looming crisis, it is the local government pension systems for police officers and firefighters that will strain city budgets and bring higher property taxes if the current trajectory continues.

There are nearly 650 locally run pension funds in Illinois, which cover retired police officers and firefighters, along with one consolidated fund for municipal retirees, called the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, or IMRF.

According to the Illinois Policy Institute, many of these local pension funds are nearing insolvency, and Illinois’ municipal pension systems are destroying city budgets, pushing property taxes higher, and forcing cuts in local services.

Pension costs are consuming more of quickly growing property tax bills. As an example, the city of Springfield, now dedicates 100 percent of its city property taxes to fund the pensions of police, fire and city workers. Springfield, Illinois has been forced to cut its police force by nearly 15 percent since 2007.

The Illinois Policy Institute audited 114 of the state’s largest cities to expose the impact of local pensions on taxpayers, property taxes and city budgets. On a 100 point scale broken into a five-part grading scale, a score of 90 and above represents a passing grade, and a score of below 59 represents a critical situation.

Illinois Policy Institute reports the top 20 cities in Illinois have collapsed over the past 10 years. Three communities — Evanston, Joliet, and Springfield were rated at critical risk in 2003. Now Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg all are ranked at critical risk by the Illinois Policy Institute audit. Next-door neighbors Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, and Rolling Meadows rank worse than Arlington Heights.

Taxpayers contribute three times more into local pensions than local employees do in the top 20 most populated communities in Illinois. Arlington Heights is the 12th most populated city (not including Chicago) in Illinois at 75,777.


In 2003, Arlington Heights was rated at 72 — at serious risk.

In 2012, Arlington Heights was rated at 45 — at critical risk.


In 2003, Buffalo Grove was rated at 78 — at serious risk.

In 2012, Buffalo Grove was rated at 61 — at extreme risk.


In 2003, Mount Prospect was rated at 78 — at extreme risk.

In 2012, Mount Prospect was rated at 43 — at critical risk.


In 2003, Rolling Meadows was rated at 62 — at extreme risk.

In 2012, Rolling Meadows was rated at 20 — at critical risk.


In 2003, Elk Grove Village was rated at 76 — at serious risk.

In 2012, Elk Grove Village was rated at 36 — at critical risk.


In 2003, Rolling Meadows was rated at 62 — at extreme risk.

In 2012, Rolling Meadows was rated at 20 — at critical risk.


In 2003, Schaumburg was rated at 72 — at serious risk.

In 2012, Schaumburg was rated at 46 — at critical risk.


In 2003, Palatine was rated at 82 — at moderate risk.

In 2012, Palatine was rated at 50 — at critical risk.


In 2003, Des Plaines was rated at 64 — at extreme risk.

In 2012, Des Plaines was rated at 31 — at critical risk.


In 2003, Springfield was rated at 55 — at critical risk.

In 2012, Springfield was rated at 18 — at critical risk.

According to the Illinois Policy Group’s website, the institute seeks to “define the challenges facing Illinois residents, study how public policy can improve the situation and then craft positive, innovative solutions based on free enterprise principles.”

The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is an Illinois-based think tank and 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose stated vision is “to make Illinois first in economic outlook and job creation and to become a free enterprise leader for the rest of America.

See the complete report from Illinois Policy Institute …

The crisis hits home: Illinois’ local pension problem

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