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Pension panel waffles on payment plan

Members of the Blue Ribbon Committee appointed to sort out Evanston’s public safety pension mess reached no agreement last night on how fast the city should try to pay down the estimated $140 million owed to the pension programs.

The group, meeting in the Aldermanic Library at the Civic Center, agreed to prepare a three part report — explaining how the city got itself into the hole, suggesting what to do about the problem immediately and providing recommendations for how to best monitor pension funding levels so the problem doesn’t get out of hand in the future.

But they expressed differing views about whether the city should try to fully fund the pensions before the 2033 state deadline, try to just meet that target, or hope that the state — faced with howls of pain from other cash-strapped municipalities — will postpone the deadline, letting towns pass the bill along to future generations.

An ultimate recommendation on that will have a major impact on how deeply the city will have to cut into other programs to pay the pension tab, or how much higher it will have to raise taxes to keep funding everything.

The committee is scheduled to meet again at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 18, and hopes to have its report ready for City Council by the end of July.

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