Report: Bradley police pay tops $90,000, police pension fund $6.45 million in hole
The average Bradley police officer received a record $90,167 in total compensation in 2014, while the police pension funding deficit doubled, reaching $6.45 million, according to a recent report issued by the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI).
Bradley property taxpayers are now on the hook for $6.45 million in unfunded police pension liability in 2014, up from $3.37 million in 2005, according to the 2015 Biennial Report. The report summarizes the financial health of all state and municipal pension funds.
“What’s happening in Bradley is happening all over Illinois where cities are struggling with sky-rocketing pension costs, ever higher property tax and the inability to do anything about them,” Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, recently told the Kankakee Times.
That liability is the difference between the amount that professional actuaries, hired by the state, calculate would be in Bradley police pension investment accounts if they were on track to fund all future obligations and the amount that actually is in the accounts.
“These cities are having to pay everything into pensions so there’s limited money for other core city responsibilities like libraries, putting police on streets, paving roads,” Dabrowski said. “Rather than being forced to raise taxes, they should be able to claim bankruptcy and reorganize debts. It’s time to come up with new plans that are in line with what cities can afford.”
The state report also revealed that Bradley property taxpayers -- not police officers themselves -- fund the overwhelming majority of Bradley police pensions, who covered 78 percent of fund contributions in 2014, or $804,949. And that number continues to grow, doubling what taxpayers contributed just four years ago and more than tripling the amount in 2005.
According to the report, 15 retired Bradley police officers are currently collecting pensions. Each saved an average of $65,560 -- a collective $984,760 -- during their entire careers. But the amount they will receive adds up to a great deal more than the amount they saved while working.
Those same 15 retirees collected $663,235 in 2014 alone, or $55,269 each.
Over 25 years of retirement, these 15 police officers will collect $18.6 million in benefits, or roughly $1.24 million each.
“The problem is that these workers get to retire at an early age, and they are living longer,” Dabrowski said. “These pensions are no longer affordable for cities and taxpayers where employees retire in their 50s and receive automatic guaranteed adjustments.”
For example, if a police officer worked for 25 years, he/she would have saved roughly $2,622 per year. If he/she collects benefits for 25 years of retirement, he/she will make approximately $49,600 per year. Taxpayers funded the difference of $46,978 per year.
Each Bradley police officer received $1,972 per month in 2014 -- or $23,675 per year -- in contributions toward their pension.
“Public sector income has been growing at a faster rate than private income,” Dabrowski said. “We need to stop the bleed of people leaving the state. What we need to see is Illinois state government finally take on pension reform to the extent they can and freeze property tax in order to provide property tax relief.”
The median household income in Bradley is $53,595, according to the U.S. Census.
The village of Bradley mayor and trustees refused to respond to requests for interviews.
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147 S Michigan Ave.
Bradley, IL - 60915
147 S Michigan Ave
Bradley, IL - 60915