Killer Taxes Choke the Life Out of Will County


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View as PDF Chicago, IL – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) has released its most recent government pension study exposing individual pensions for Joliet municipal, Will County, Will County government schools, and Joliet Junior College retirees.
“Across the 5 state pension funds, there are more than 12,154 government pensioners collecting six-figure pensions and over 85,893 pensioners collecting more than $50,000 where the local per-capita income is about $30,377 and the state debt per capita is $24,959,” said Jared Labell, TUA’s director of operations.
“266 Will County government teachers are drawing more than $100,000 in annual pension payments and 2,092 are getting more than $50,000! On average, these government pensioners contribute only about 5.5% to their own retirement payout.”
“Until 2011, Joliet was the fastest growing city in the region but that growth has slowed to just .85% in 2014. Government is the problem – government is the largest employer in Joliet and government payroll and pensions come from taxation. Government jobs don’t create wealth or growth – they simply siphon more money away from individual taxpayers.”
“The Joliet police and fire pension funds are in abysmal shape, each funded only about 50%.  Worse yet, Joliet’s IMRF liabilities are only about 35% funded. This is putting services in jeopardy, as pensions for services rendered in the past are competing for tax dollars needed for current services.”
“Taxpayers already are contributing four times as much to the pension funds than the government employees themselves, so for every dollar an employee puts into the fund, you and I put in 4.  Forcing taxpayers to pay such a heavy portion of someone else’s retirement is criminal.”
“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.”
“Take a look at John R. Harper who retired from Plainfield SD 202. He gets $239,019 in annual pension payments. Retiring at only 54, his taxpayer funded pension payout will accumulate to more than $11 million! And his personal investment in that payout? A mere 3.2%.”
 
“Then there is Daniel T. Tapper, retired from Will County government. He gets $122,126 in annual pension payments and because he retired at only 50, those payments with compounded annual cost of living adjustments will accumulate to $6.4 million! His personal investment was only about 2.6% or $166,905.”
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“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. 80% of local taxes go to fund government employee pay, pensions, and benefits.”
“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!”

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.