Analysis: Chatham firefighters pension fund saw 50% shortfall in city contribution in 2016
Of the 651 fire and police pension funds in Illinois, more than 400 were underfunded by cities in 2016, including seven funds serving cities in the Springfield area.
A Wirepoints analysis of the latest data from the Illinois Department of Insurance shows two-thirds of the state’s 355 police pension funds and 60 percent of its firefighter pension funds did not receive as much from municipalities as they should have under state law.
If municipalities continue falling short of their required contributions, they could end up in the same boat as Harvey, where a state court ordered the city to increase property taxes to fully fund the Harvey firefighter pensions. The firefighter pension fund was only 22 percent funded.
“Now, the state has stepped in on behalf of Harvey’s police pension fund,” Wirepoints reported. “The state comptroller has begun garnishing the city’s tax revenues to make up what the municipality failed to contribute. In response, the city has announced that 40 public safety employees will be laid off.”
A 2011 law requires the state comptroller to step in like it has in Harvey, intercepting revenue from taxes collected by the state that would usually go to municipalities.
“Harvey may be the first city to suffer garnishment, but it won’t be the last,” Wirepoints reported. “Illinois has a $10 billion downstate pension crisis – made up of municipal police and firefighter pension funds – that is separate from the state’s own $130 billion crisis.
“Some public safety funds are in good shape, but the majority are in trouble. And a growing number are approaching total insolvency. More than half of Illinois’ 651 public safety funds are less than 60 percent funded.”
Which public safety pension funds aren’t fully funded?
|Fund||2016 funding ratio||Total required contribution||Actual city contribution||2016 contribution (shortfall) / surplus||Percent shortfall / surplus|