Illinois Municipal Pension Fund On Firm Ground

Jun 4, 2013

IMRF Director Lou Kosiba

It's no secret that Illinois has one of the worst funded pension systems in the country. But the fund that covers municipal workers is in better shape.

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund says its funding level sits at 86-percent. That compares to a collective 39-percent for the pension funds that include state employees. IMRF Director Lou Kosiba says they're not doing anything unique.

"We just have a more rational funding system than the state funded systems" Kosiba said.

Kosiba says local governments are mandated to make routine contributions toward the system, whereas the state has a history of skipping pension payments. Like many other retirement systems, Kosiba says they've also seen a rebound in their investments.

Municipalities are also responsible for their police and fire pensions, which are separate from the municipal fund. Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory says it appears their public safety funds are on the rebound. He says that's good because the financial collapse of 2008, and its affect on pension-related investments, created additional budget pressure.

"It set us back and it added to the contributions the city needed to make" Gregory said.

While things look a little better now, municipalities face the challenge of meeting a state law that says their pensions systems need to be almost fully funded by the year 2040.