A new report from the Better Government Association says Evanston has among the most poorly funded public safety pension programs in suburban Cook County and highlights other towns that are exploring privatization or consolidation as ways to address their pension problems.
The BGA analysis says Evanston’s firefighter pension fund is the 8th worst funded in the suburbs among funds with more than $1 million in assets. It only has enough money to cover 45 percent of its estimated liabilities.
The city’s police pension fund is the 19th worst funded by the same measure, with only enough funds to cover 46 percent of its estimated liabilities.
The BGA says North Riverside, Chicago Ridge Forest View and McCook are considering privatizing their fire department or buying fire service from a neighboring town as a way of dealing with the pension crisis.
Until now, Lincolnwood has been the only community in the state using a private company to provide fire protection services.
Evanston in recent years has increased pension payments to higher levels than the minimums required and has shifted to less-rosy assumptions about investment returns on its pension contributions.
While the latter move may bring the city more in line with reality, it also has the effect of increasing the estimated pension funding shortfall compared to other communities using more optimistic actuarial assumptions.