Niles firefighters pension fund underfunded by $37 million
The pension fund for Niles firefighters is now underfunded by nearly $37 million, a deficit that’s tripled over the past 10 years, according to a report released by the Illinois Department of Insurance.
The Niles Firefighters Pension Fund had only $28.8 million in assets as of April 30, 2014 when it should have had $65 million, the report says. In 2005, it held $25 million in assets but should have had $38 million.
The deficit equates to approximately $3,220 in firefighter pension debt per Niles household.
Niles’ 49 active firefighters haven’t been contributing enough to fully fund their pensions, the report shows. Each firefighter saved an average of just $736 per month in 2014, yet they’ll each receive an annuity upon retirement worth millions.
Total Niles firefighter compensation in 2014 averaged $144,019, including $56,121 in taxpayer-funded retirement savings.
The Niles’ Firefighter Pension Fund Board includes active firefighters Robert Greiner and Byron Tull, retired firefighter Walter Blase, retired accountant James Callero, Glenview State Bank executive Marimel Lim, and Village of Niles Finance Director Scot R. Neukirch.
Greiner currently earns $174,908 in salary and taxpayer-funded retirement savings, and had contributed $116,783 to his pension as of the end of fiscal 2014, after 14 years and six months of service.
Tull earns $145,126, and had contributed $70,783 over nine years and nine months of service.
Blase retired from the Niles Fire Department in 1994 after 32 years and three months of service. He made no contributions to his pension over his career, according the DOI report, and is currently collecting $79,796 per year.
Over 21 years of retirement, Blase has collected approximately $1.35 million. Over a 30-year retirement, he’ll collect a total of $2.2 million under the current Illinois pension system.