by: Diane Benjamin
People receiving pensions under Illinois Law aren’t the problem. The law is the problem, written years ago by people in Springfield thinking they could manage utopia and therefore buy votes. The system worked until people actually started retiring. Their checks automatically increase every year by 3%. Within 10 years they get paid more in retirement than they did working. It’s a sweet deal for everybody but taxpayers.
People are upset about the retirement of both Kimmerlings at ages 46 and 50. We should all be so lucky, first to get out of corrupt Illinois, and next to walk on nice beaches at taxpayer expense.
What are the real facts? Without filing a bunch of Freedom of Information Act requests, it’s difficult to determine how much each will collect. The pension laws have changed over the years and the law passed to attempt a fix is in the courts.
I believe Beth Kimmerling is covered by the IMRF pensions system. According to the IMRF website, Beth is vested in their pension program, but she can’t start receiving benefits until age 55: http://www.imrf.org/pubs/er_pubs/gen_memos/2010_gm/gm_599.pdf
Firemen are covered by a different system. Determining what Mike will be paid means reading the law. Full benefits start at age 55, so Mike won’t be collecting the maximum: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=004000050HArt%2E+4&ActID=638&ChapterID=9&SeqStart=24000000&SeqEnd=30700000
The pension of a firefighter who is retiring after attaining age 50 with 10 or more years of creditable service shall be reduced by one-half of 1% for each month that the firefighter's age is under age 55.
The maximum pension under this subsection (c) shall be 75% of final average salary.
There is another glitch to calculating how much Mike is going to receive though. The City of Bloomington allows employees to accumulate unused sick and vacation days – up to 1800 hours. They get paid a lump sum when they retire. See this post from March of 2013 showing how much Tom Hamilton’s salary spiked in his final year: http://blnnews.com/2013/03/26/bloomington-you-have-a-problem/
Mike’s final salary was $135,323 or $65 per hour (135,323/(40 hours per week * 52 weeks) 2080). If he accumulated 1800 hours, that adds another $117,000 to his final salary! Did you see the spike Hamilton got? Think $117,000 is out of the question?
The actual pension he receives will have to be obtained by FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). We don’t know if Mike had the 1800 hours, but the City financial statements always show a huge liability accumulating to cover this future cost.
Obviously the City of Bloomington isn’t looking out for taxpayers, or they would have changed the policy years ago. They will blame union contracts. Evidently all the public sector union members will go on strike in protest. Firemen and Police can’t strike, so what is stopping Bloomington?
Obviously the State of Illinois isn’t looking out for taxpayers either. The Illinois Constitution was written to protect union workers, not taxpayers. Union workers believe they will get what was promised to them. I don’t blame them. They are participating in a pyramid scheme that is collapsing, but they refuse to face reality.
Maybe Kimmerlings saw the writing on the wall. Retiring early protects their future benefits. Wouldn’t you do the same thing?