Peoria Standard

Peoria Standard

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Peoria’s pension liability means higher fees for homeowners

Politics

By Sarah Downey | Oct 10, 2019

Peoria illinois(1000)
Peoria, Illinois | CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=843092

As the City of Peoria presently faces higher taxes as a result of unfunded pension liability, residents are concerned about what the long-term effects will be.

The city’s decision to implement a public safety pension fee – calculating bills based on property size – is going to hurt homeowners, longtime resident Gary McCullough told the Peoria Standard.

“It is really unfair for property owners,” McCullough said. “The city and the firefighters and police need to work toward a goal of privatizing their pensions so they would be able to have their 401(k) matched, and each individual can control their own financial destiny.”


City Manager Patrick Urich | http://www.peoriagov.org/

City Manager Patrick Urich told WMBD-TV that Peoria needs $1.2 million by year’s end in order to fund the city’s police and fire pensions.

Similar situations are occurring in other towns across the state, as Illinois has been facing pension issues for years. A state task force has been looking into pension consolidation, as well as state asset transfers.

McCullough hopes something can be done soon but hesitates to trust the state’s ability to fix its pension problems.

“I can’t say the city has done this, but I do know that the state has done this," McCullough said. "They are lawmakers, they have gone into pension funds and used those funds for other expenses. In the state it’s a common occurrence – until they broke the pension funds – and now they’re trying to scramble to remonetize the pension funds. They weren’t in a lockbox, so to speak. Peoria is not unique in this. Failure to properly fund pensions is the model that our state lawmakers have set. We are not in a unique situation.”

McCullough, a retired electrical technician who worked for Caterpillar and Ameren, believes pension funds are an idea of the past. 

“Ask employees to put 10 percent of their salary into a 401(k), and for the employer to match it. Then they’re both responsible. That gives that employee total control over their financial viability, and it keeps lawmakers from being tempted do things with pension funds.”

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