Posts Tagged Rock Island Municipal Government

Quad-City Times | AFSCME, taxpayer group disagree on Illinois pensions


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Taxpayers United of America’s operations director, Jared Labell, was quoted by Quad-City Times in an article about Taxpayers United of America’s recent pension release for both Rock Island County and Moline.


Visit website to see pension information

According to Jared Labell, of the Taxpayers United of America organization, the group’s website lists individual pensions of Rock Island and Moline municipal, Rock Island County, Rock Island County government teachers and Black Hawk College retirees. Visit www.taxpayersunited.org to see the list.

Rock Island County taxpayers bear the burden of millions of dollars in pensions that retired educators and municipal workers will collect for years to come, according to a Chicago-based taxpayers group.

Taxpayers United of America made a presentation on that contention — one of several presentations throughout the state — Wednesday at the Rock Island Holiday Inn.

But a representative from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, counters that most Illinois retirees receive only modest pensions.

Jared Labell, operations director of the taxpayers group, said about 930 Rock Island County teachers collect at least $50,000 annually. Statewide, more than 12,000 Illinois pensioners collect six-figure pensions, and more than 85,893 retirees collect more than $50,000, he said.

“On average, these government pensioners contribute only about 5.5 percent to their own retirement payout,” he said. “In the private sector, employees pay 15 percent of every dollar they earn into Social Security for an average pension of only $15,000.”

But Anders Lindall, public affairs director at AFSCME Council 31, Chicago, calls the taxpayers group and similar organizations “pension-cutting lobby groups.”

He said the average pension in the state is $32,000 a year.

“We’re talking about the life savings of teachers, police, firefighters, nurses and other public-service workers who live in our communities throughout Illinois,” Lindall said.

Eight in 10 of those workers are ineligible for Social Security, Lindall said. “So, their modest pension is their primary, if not their only, source of income in retirement.”

When they are working, teachers, police officers and other public employees pay significantly into their own pensions, Lindall said. He said workers typically pay 8-12 percent of every paycheck toward their pension.

 “The pension debt, which is real, is caused not by employees doing anything wrong; they always pay their share. It’s caused not by benefits being too expensive, and it’s certainly not caused by the few radical exceptions — outliers — that these pension-slashing lobby groups like to trot out,” Lindall said.

The taxpayer group’s Labell gave examples of local retirees with pensions near or surpassing $100,000, including Calvin D. Lee, former superintendent of Moline-Coal Valley School District, who according to the taxpayer group’s research, receives $197,826 in annual pension payments.

Another retiree, former Rock Island County Sheriff Michael T. Huff, receives $97,291 in annual pension payments, Labell said.

AFSCME’s Lindall said the pension debt was caused by legislators who didn’t set aside enough money to pay benefits. “It’s regrettable that they (the taxpayer group) attract any attention at all. They’re not adding anything productive to the conversation.”

He said it’s important to understand that the problem is the decades-long failure of politicians at the state level to set aside adequate resources.

“The answer is ending that practice and for the state to pay what it owes,” Lindall said. “Many people have talked about ways to make those costs more manageable — for example, re-amortizing the pension debt — a mathematician’s word for refinancing your mortgage.”

Creative and constitutional solutions like that that should be considered, Lindall said.

The taxpayer group’s Labell suggests putting new state employees on a 401(k) retirement plan. He emphasized that he is not demonizing people who receive pensions. Pointing out what someone is making through a pension “puts a more ‘real’ spin on it,” he said.

The average person’s Social Security pension is $15,000, he said. Compared to that, the pensions he discussed “are just astronomical,” he said.

“We are technically these peoples’ employers,” Labell said. “I think we have a right to know this information.”

Taxpayers United of America calls itself a “pro-taxpayer, nonprofit, non-partisan organization,” Labell said, adding that the organization is “not indebted” to any political party.

AFSCME represents mostly public employees at all levels of government and is the largest public employee union in the country with 1.4 million members.

It’s a Spending Problem in Rock Island County


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View as PDF Rock Island, IL – Taxpayers United of America (TUA) has released its most recent government pension study exposing individual pensions for Rock Island municipal, Moline Municipal, East Moline Municipal, Rock Island County, Rock Island County government schools, and Black Hawk College.
“These government pensions explain why bureaucrats in Rock Island County keep trying to pass a new sales tax,” stated TUA’s director of operations, Jared Labell.
“There are about 930 Rock Island County government teachers collecting pensions of at least $50,000 annually. The median household income across the county is only $48,702 and the poverty rate is 13.3%.”
“Across 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 state debt per capita is $24,959.”
“On average, these government pensioners contribute only about 5.5% to their own retirement payout. Taxpayers are forced to contribute $4 for every $1 that the government employees pay toward their own retirement. In the private sector, employees pay 15% of every dollar they earn into Social Security for an average pension of only $15,000!”
“These government bureaucrats need to get the message that taxpayers have had enough and it’s time to cut spending. Three times in the last six years Rock Island County has tried to pass a 1% sales tax and three times the voters have defeated this destructive new tax.”
The Rock Island Police pension fund is only funded at about 38.8%. A healthy funding level is at least 85%.  In 2003, 18% of Moline’s property tax levy went to the police and fire pensions, in 2014, it was about 47%, according to Kathy Carr, the city’s finance director.
“Taxpayers are on the hook for every penny of the shortfall in pension funding.  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 government 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 Calvin D. Lee who retired from Moline USD 40. He gets $197,826 in annual pension payments. Retiring at only 58, his taxpayer funded pension payout will accumulate to more than $7.2 million! And his personal investment in that payout? A mere 5.4%.”
“Then there is Michael T. Huff, retired from Rock Island County government. He gets $97,291 in annual pension payments and because he retired at only 54, those payments with compounded annual cost of living adjustments will accumulate to $4.1 million! His personal investment was only about 2.3% or $94,478, less than his current annual pension.”
The complete list of the following can be at taxpayersunited.org:

 
“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.”
“Our solution is to 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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