THE BLOG
11/11/2014 03:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Does One Illinois Village Hold the Answer to All Our Pension Problems?

Illinois pensions are in trouble. Everyone can agree on that. But not everyone can agree on how to fix it. The state has been behind on its own pension payments many times, but is now planning on garnishing sales tax revenue if certain cities do not get their pension funds up to date. Officials in North Riverside, Ill. have been grappling with this issue.

Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek looked at the situation in North Riverside:

North Riverside says its contract with firefighters expired in April and it seeks to privatize its fire protection services, turning current firefighters into employees of a private company, PSI, which has provided paramedic services to the village for decades.

Current North Riverside firefighters would work for PSI at their current salaries and with their current health insurance plan. They also would keep already-accrued pension benefits but would be folded into a 401-(k) program at PSI that would include an employer-matching contribution. Odelson says privatizing fire services will save the village in insurance, overtime, sick time and pension costs for firefighters who make more than $200,000 in yearly salary and benefits.

See why a lawyer for the firefighters in the village says such privatization would be illegal at Reboot Illinois.

The statewide pension crisis will be just one of the issues that Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner will need to tackle during his time in office, and he doesn't have a moment to lose, says the Better Government Association's Andy Shaw. Shaw said he wants to see Rauner getting to work right away, even before he is sworn in, to thinking up solutions for the state's many problems. See Shaw's invitation to Rauner to join the BGA at a luncheon to do just that at Reboot Illinois.

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