Posts Tagged Knox County

The Register-Mail|Pension problem riles watchdog


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Taxpayers United of America’s Jared Labell was quoted by The Register-Mail on the pension crisis in Illinois


GALESBURG — The privately-funded watchdog group Taxpayers United of America released its findings on problematic pensions in local governments Wednesday.registerart

Director of Operations Jared Labell isolated two retired educators in Knox County with pensions he said are an example of the out-of-control system in Illinois. Labell put the cause of the problem on lawmakers in Springfield and hiring practices of local governments.

“I certainly don’t put the blame on the individuals being hired in these positions. … I think the fault is with the politicians locally, with the politicians statewide and I think the blame needs to be passed on them first and foremost because they are also part of the pension system,” Labell said.

However, in Galesburg and Knox County, local elected officials have little control over pensions, most of which are negotiated at the state level. Galesburg Mayor John Pritchard said the city has very little influence on pension rates.

“We get a bill from IMRF and we pay it,” Pritchard said. “As for the fire and police pensions, the establishment of those are set by state law.”

At the state level, pension reform legislation is currently being reviewed by the Illinois Supreme Court. The legislation would change the cost of living adjustment rate to keep pensions from ballooning over time. Labell said that legislation is a good start but it doesn’t go far enough.

State employee unions have opposed the legislation, saying it takes away money promised to the workers. Labell said the unions should help pay to ease the situation.

“The unions should use those dues forced from members to bail out the pension system rather than use those funds to elect political cronies to keep them in power,” Labell said.

To help combat the pension problem down the road, Labell said new hires should be switched to a 401(k)-style retirement plan and contribute more toward their pensions while they are still employed.

WQAD8 | Group aims to jump-start Illinois pension reform in Knox County


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Taxpayers United of America’s Jared Labell was quoted by WQAD 8 about TUA’s visit to Galesburg to release pension data.



It’s a no-brainer that police and fire services are crucial in Galesburg. Officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every shift.
At the same time, their pensions take a big bite out of the city’s budget.
Fire and police pension payments swallow 41% of the city’s property tax revenue.
That’s roughly four times the cost of other Galesburg pensions.
“If it continues to increase at those rates, it’s going to have a significant impact on services in the future,” said Galesburg City Manager Todd Thompson.
That’s why representatives from Taxpayers United of America made a stop in Galesburg on Wednesday.
The privately-funded, Chicago-based group, says that Illinois can’t afford to wait for change.
“The tax dollars that are coming in need to go toward services that are currently being rendered, not past,” said Jared Labell, the group’s operations manager.
It certainly won’t happen overnight, but the group wants change to begin with new employees.
Taxpayers United wants new Illinois hires put into a 401-K style plan. It also wants to increase the retirement age and amount that employees contribute.
That idea prompts concern in Knox County.
Relying solely on 401-K’s might not be enough to fund retirements. A pension could actually be more affordable in the long run.
“If you’re going to continue to get quality employees, you’ve got to have some type of benefits,” said Knox County Treasurer Robin Davis.
Springfield continues to search for solutions after decades of underfunding and mismanagement.
Between the legislature and the courts, it’s a timely challenge.

Knox County Government Pensions are Scandalous


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View as PDF Galesburg, IL – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) has released their most recent government pension study exposing individual pensions for Galesburg municipal, Knox County, Knox County government schools, and Carl Sandburg College retirees.
“It’s no ‘phony scandal’ that government pensions are failed and taking their toll on Knox County taxpayers,” stated TUA’s operations director, Jared Labell. “Across the 5 state pension funds, there are more than 11,054 government pensioners collecting six-figure pensions and over 78,526 pensioners collecting more than $50,000 where the per-capita income is slightly higher than $35,000 and the per capita government debt is $24,959.”
“Knox County taxpayers struggle to make ends meet with 6.0% unemployment and bank-owned homes on the rise, but are forced to pay for these outrageous pensions.”
“The Galesburg police and fire pension funds are in abysmal shape, each funded by only about 50%.  This is putting services in jeopardy as pensions for services rendered in the past are competing for tax dollars needed for current services.”
“It is time to protect the future of taxpayers who have been scammed by politicians and union thugs into going along with a system that creates and constitutionally protects a special class of government elite.”
“It’s also time for union leadership to have a frank discussion with the rank and file, educating them on the inevitable collapse of an unsustainable crony system designed to siphon money from taxpayers for the benefit of the few. The unions should use those dues forced from members to bail out the pension system rather than use those funds to elect political cronies who keep them in power.”
“Consider the annual pension of $146,646 being paid to retired government teacher, Thomas Schmidt from Carl Sandburg College. His estimated lifetime payout is $5.1 million! Retiring at the ripe old age of 58, his personal investment in that gold-plated payout was a mere $232,158, or 4.5%.”
“Then there is Ronald L. Cope, retired from Galesburg CUSD 205. He gets $126,403 in annual pension payments and because he retired at only 56, those payments with compounded annual cost of living adjustments will accumulate to $3.2 million! His personal investment was only about 4.4% or $139,649.”
Click to view pensions for

“The average Social Security ‘pension’ is only about $15,000 a year and taxpayers pay 15% of every penny they earn for that modest payout.”
“This government pension system is the single cause of Illinois’ critical financial situation and it is mathematically impossible to tax our way out of this situation.”
“The Illinois government has failed us; local governments have failed us. It is in everyone’s best interest to solve the pension problem before the system completely collapses. It is no longer a matter of ‘if’ it will collapse, but when.”
“Immediately place all new hires into 401(k) style retirement savings accounts, increase member contributions to their retirement fund, increase retirement age for full benefits, and increase member contributions to 50% of health care premiums. Anything short of these reforms will do nothing to permanently solve the problem. If it takes a Constitutional Amendment, then we need to get that on the ballot as soon as possible!”

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Taxpayers United Of America: (TUA). is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded June 27, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. In the past forty years, TUA has saved taxpayers more than $200 billion n taxes and has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America. Check All posts. s.

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