Joliet objects to state plan to divert money to pensions
By Bob Okon email@example.com May 15, 2012 10:00PM
Updated: June 17, 2012 8:24AM
JOLIET — Joliet would give up $2.2 million a year to help pay for teacher pensions under a proposal in the state Legislature, City Manager Thomas Thanas told council members Tuesday.
The bill introduced Friday by powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, would take back personal property replacement taxes the state now shares with municipalities.
The money instead would go to prop up teacher pensions that are funded by the state.
“It’s a huge hit,” Thanas told the Joliet City Council Finance Committee, saying the state would be “basically hijacking” money that now goes to local government.
Thanas said local officials are gearing up to fight the proposal after learning of it through the Illinois Municipal League.
“There was a call to arms over the weekend,” he said.
Municipal officials plan to go to Springfield to oppose the bill when it goes to a House committee for consideration on Wednesday, Thanas said.
The proposal is the latest attempt by state officials to shift teacher pension costs to local governments.
Gov. Pat Quinn previously called for local schools to begin paying toward teacher pensions. School officials have said the cost would have to be covered by local property taxes.
Cities, too, would have to make up for the lost money if the state takes back the personal property replacement tax funds.
Thanas noted that the revenue now goes to Joliet’s general fund to help pay for city services.
Meanwhile, Joliet also will have to pay out $2 million on two separate legal settlements.
Each case was settled for $1 million.
One case involved Cedric Bacon, the Joliet resident struck by a squad car in 2007 while riding his bicycle after midnight. The settlement actually lowers a $2.1 million jury award given last year. The city appealed the award.
The other case involves an employee for a private contractor who suffered permanent leg damage when a water main burst while he was doing a job for the city.