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Market wipes out pension progress

The downturn in financial markets has overwhelmed Evanston’s effort to trim its public safety pension liabilities.

Despite increasing annual payments to the fire and police pension funds by $1.4 million last year, the city’s unfunded liability to the funds increased by more than $13 million to a total of nearly $159 million.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons will tell aldermen at their meeting Tuesday that the city needs to increase its required contribution to the funds, now at $12.9 million, by an extra $1.2 million in 2010, by about another $1 million in each of the following three years and then by at least a half-million a year every year after that until 2033.

The city’s pension consultants estimate that despite the extra payments, the unfunded liability will continue to grow to over $182 million in fiscal year 2014, but should then gradually decrease until the liability is at least theoretically wiped out by 2033.


The downturn in financial markets has overwhelmed Evanston’s effort to trim its public safety pension liabilities.

Despite increasing annual payments to the fire and police pension funds by $1.4 million last year, the city’s unfunded liability to the funds increased by more than $13 million to a total of nearly $159 million.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons will tell aldermen at their meeting Tuesday that the city needs to increase its required contribution to the funds, now at $12.9 million, by an extra $1.2 million in 2010, by about another $1 million in each of the following three years and then by at least a half-million a year every year after that until 2033.

The city’s pension consultants estimate that despite the extra payments, the unfunded liability will continue to grow to over $182 million in fiscal year 2014, but should then gradually decrease until the liability is at least theoretically wiped out by 2033.

Lyons says one consolation is that with the end of the Downtown II tax increment financing district, the city should gain an extra $1.9 million in property tax revenue next year without having to increase its tax rate.

Assuming there was no other competition for the added funds, that means the first year’s increase in the pension payments could be covered without a tax rate increase.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says that, because of a crowded agenda, members of the Administration and Public Works Committee don’t plan to act on the pension report Tuesday and instead will hold a fuller discussion of it at their Oct. 12 meeting.

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