Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Illinois voters say reform public employee pensions now

Voters in Lakeforest, Illinois were asked if public employee pensions should be reformed to reduce the burden on taxpayers. The vote was an overwhelming 9 to 1 YES.

The question on the ballot read: "Shall the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor take immediate steps to implement meaningful pension reform which will relieve the unsustainable burden on local taxpayers?" Lake Forest voters were asked the question because the city is faced with decreasing revenues whiles its fire and police pension costs are expected to increase $470,570, or 25 percent, in the next fiscal year. Pension costs comprise 12 percent of the city's expenses.

Without legislative reform, Lake Forest city officials have said the city will need to cut $500,000 from the fiscal year 2011 budget to meet its pension payments.

The city has 283 active employees who are served by the pension fund. There are 41 active police officers and 36 active firefighters. Police and fire employees have their own pension funds. The remaining 206 active city employees are covered by IMRF -- the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

"We're pleased," Mayor James Cowhey said Tuesday night. "We're hopeful that whoever our new leaders are will take this seriously and craft new legislation to help rectify the situation."