By: Diane Benjamin
The City of Bloomington knew the law had changed on pension spiking in 2012. They changed the policy for NEW hires, but not for existing employees.
Here’s the recap:
The IMRF retirement fund was tired of paying for spiked pensions because of Sick Leave Buy Back payments that inflated ending salaries.
Since benefits are based on that salary, contributions to cover the higher pension payouts weren’t being paid into the fund. To keep the plan solvent IMRF got a law passed that assessed penalties for “spiking” pension payments. The penalties were easy to avoid though. All employers had to do was pay the accumulated time AFTER the employee retired, even one day would have worked. That would have avoided payments being subject to pensions calculations.
The City of Bloomington didn’t protect taxpayers. As David Hales put it last Monday, “equity and fairness” meant they couldn’t. Evidently the employees knew the game and had planned to live off taxpayers with inflated pension payments. Employees plotted to received their payouts months before they retired so IMRF couldn’t reject their much higher ending salaries. Obviously it was no secret at the City for how to do it!
The amount of “accelerated payments” penalties the City has been forced to pay is now approaching $2,000,000. The City of Bloomington became the laughing-stock of the State when the front page of the Chicago Tribune pictured retired HR director Emily Bell showing with the highest penalty ever assessed because of her “spike”: $358,394.12 (Story from 2015: https://blnnews.com/2015/08/26/imrf-what-did-hales-know-and-when/)
Don’t forget, these payments are made via Wire Transfers. Wire transfers were “accidentally” not on Bills and Payroll for approval by the Council for years. We didn’t know about the penalties because they were never documented: https://blnnews.com/2015/09/10/mondays-agenda-approve-wire-transfers/
City attorney Jeff Jurgens tried to claim they didn’t want to get sued for “diminishing” pensions if the policy was changed. Since them courts have made it clear the City had every right to not allow this “spiking”:
Has the City policy changed to protect you from future penalties? NOPE. The City failed to protect taxpayers at the Coliseum and they continue to not protect them now. How much other money are they throwing away?
In 2015 an ordinance came to the Council requiring any “newly” earned Sick Leave By Back to be paid after retirement. The employees were so upset the Council tabled it for 60 days. The minutes of the August 24, 2015 meeting show the extensive conversation that took place. Jeff Jurgens stated an additional 250 employees could eventually be able to “spike” their pensions: PDF page 16 http://www.cityblm.org/home/showdocument?id=9393
This did come back to the Council on October 26, 2015. It was again left with no changes because the Council and Jeff Jurgens decided to wait for court rulings. As referenced above, a court has ruled the City of Springfield can legally not allow pension spiking. So far a new ordinance has not been brought back to the Council. There appears to be no reason why only “newly” earned sick time needs to be in the ordinance.
The City of Bloomington (David Hales) knew about the law changes because the policy for new hires was changed in 2012. If Hales didn’t know, why was the policy changed? Much of the documentation blames the former City Manager Tom Hamilton. All the way back in 2013 I showed how Hamilton spiked his own pension. See the graph showing a huge salary increase right before he retired: https://blnnews.com/2013/03/26/bloomington-you-have-a-problem/
Thanks to a reader who found many of these links. The Council has this information because she sent it to them.
Obviously the City of Bloomington is only working for themselves. City employees get lavish benefits at your expense. You are nothing more than their piggy bank getting raided frequently.
Now the library wants more of your money. The city will want more soon because they can’t stop spending money.
A new library is not needed. $2,000,000 in repairs to the existing building is a mystery since they are paying architects to design an addition.
Taxpayers are being scammed by Sick Leave Buy Back and lavish benefits. Until those two items are fixed we know City employees matter more than you do.
I hope Joliet enjoys their new City Manager. He should fit in great since government works for government, you just pay the bills.