Evanston figures prominently in a Chicago Tribune story this morning about how state and local rules let top-level municipal employees boost their pensions by postponing payouts for years of deferred vacation time until they’re about to retire.

Evanston figures prominently in a Chicago Tribune story this morning about how state and local rules let top-level municipal employees boost their pensions by postponing payouts for years of deferred vacation time until they’re about to retire.

The paper says four top-level officials who retired from Evanston during an early-retirement incentive program in 2008, took a total of $470,000 in payouts for unused sick and vacation time during the final year of their careers. The payments let them raise their pensions between 15 and 31 percent, costing the city an extra $1.2 million in payments to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

The Trib describes the practices as being widespread across Illinois and says most other states in the midwest have much tighter restrictions on such late-career pension spikes.

It quotes the city’s administrative services director, Joellen Earl, as saying the practice was city policy at the time, but that the city has reined in such perks for newer employees.

Full story

Retirement perks cost towns millions (Chicago Tribune) 

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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9 Comments

  1. Vacation and sick day carryovers

    In non-government business you can carry over at most one year of vacation.  You carry over no sick days unless you are building up a pool for necessary sick time beyond what the company alots per year [e.g. one week] and you certainly cannot "cash them in.".  It is not expected you take sick days just because they are aloted to you [e.g. one week per year], and any extended sick days [maybe beyond three] must have a document from your doctor.  It is assumed that on average most people will actually need a sick day every couple of years—five years without a sick day is not unusual.

  2. taxpayers foot the bill for padded perks

    costing the city an extra $1.2 million in payments to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund

    Let’s be accurate:  costing the taxpayers an extra $1.2 million.

    How come this kind of ritualized larceny doesn’t get the obsessive amount of attention focused on the libraries? Why weren’t aldermen protesting that these kind of payouts would drive Evanstonians into foreclosure? Isn’t this part of the reason we’re in the hole we’re in now?

  3. I was surprised to read that

    I was surprised to read that sick pay and vacation carryover boost municipalities pensios.  I assumed they all worked like Chicago where any unused carryover vacation (I don’t think unused sick days could be paid out) was paid in a one time check .  Penion was based only on pay level.  And that wasn’t very long ago.

    1. No unions

      Hi Dan,

      The employees involved are exempt from union representation because they’re top-level managers.

      And the policy is not criminal — all legally allowed under policies in place at the time.

      Some talk of legislation in Springfield to tighten the rules, but no action so far.

      Bill

  4. Evanston – You have a good racket going on

    Accrual of sick and vacation days are not allowed in the private sector of the industry. That is one of the reasons the private sector runs more efficiently than the government sector. I as an Evanston resident gets taxed to the hilt (especially property tax) from bags for leaves (including leaves from the trees on the parkway owned by the city which I have to rake and bag and pay for the city to pick up) to home security monitoring (which we had installed to alleviate our reliance on the police (thus helping the city) and many more. This practice of creative taxation by the city will not address the budget shortfall in the long run and people will get fed up with the the city’s  ‘innovative’ ways of raking money in to meet their budget. Try cutting expenses (starting from the school district) which is the most logical thing to do. Like in any household, unnecessary expenses are eliminated to make ends meet. That is what the people of Evanston do and the city should take notice.

    1. racket?

      Check the tax code. In IL accrual and rollover of sick days and vacation days is allowed in all sectors…including "private."

  5. Pension spikes cost city a bundle

    And you all thought the police and fire pensions were outrageous!!! Not one of these were in either of those categories!

  6. Pension Reporting

    Kudos to the Trib for shining a light on these abusive pension practices.  The angrier taxpayers get at the outsized compensation packages their "public servants" receive, the better.  As another poster noted, these are the real problems here, people.  The library controversy is a drop in the bucket compared to this kind of stuff.  These are the issues that are going to raise your tax burden two or three-fold,  force municipalities into bankruptcy, and put states into default.

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