Analysis: North Riverside retired firefighters will collect $39 million more than they saved
From their own paychecks, North Riverside’s seventeen retired firefighters saved a total of $1.315 million over their entire collective careers.
The same seventeen men and their families will collect nearly $40 million in pension payments and health care benefits over their retirements, all funded by North Riverside taxpayers. That’s according to a West Cook News analysis of filings made with the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI), which oversees municipal pensions.
The analysis comes on the heels of an Illinois Appellate Court ruling that would force North Riverside, population 6,705, to cut city services and raise taxes to fund its fire and police pensions.
The ruling claims the village underfunded pensions by several million dollars last decade. And it did. But so did the firefighters and police officers themselves, contributing a fraction of what would be necessary to fund rich, guaranteed retirement benefits.
From 2005 to 2014, North Riverside taxpayers poured in $3.124 million to the village’s police and fire pension funds. Active police officers and firefighters contributed $3.569 million, according to DOI.
But a 2015 DOI report confirms that-- with more than $35 million in unfunded firefighter and police pension debt to go with $55 million in bonded debt, a few million more wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
The average North Riverside property taxpayer is currently saddled with $31,835 in North Riverside government debt. That’s before counting its share of state and county debt.
The North Riverside Ponzi Scheme
In 2016 alone, the seventeen North Riverside retired firefighters collected at least $1.154 million in benefits-- nearly as much in a single year as they all saved combined during their careers.
A typical retiree collects pension benefits for thirty years.
Kenneth Rouleau, 61, of North Riverside, retired in 2013 at age 58, after 36 years on the force. He saved $174,705 over his career-- or an average of $402 per month.
Rouleau collected $101,216 in pension benefits last year. Over a thirty year retirement, he would collect $4.37 million, before counting health care, which a 2015 Daily Herald analysis pegged at $7,700 per employee, per year.
Dominic M. Salvino, 77, of North Riverside, retired in 2002 at age 63. He saved $97,586 over his 29 year career-- or an average of $282 per month. Salvino will collect $2.815 million in retirement.
Richard Schoemer, 63 of Darien, retired in 2010 at age 57. He saved $122,661-- $302 per month over 25 years-- and will collect $2.95 million.
This funding deficit is filled, mostly unknowingly, by North Riverside property taxpayers, who are led to believe these "funds" live on investment income. Rather, they are required to pay today for the retirements of firefighters who retired years ago, before they ever moved to the village.
In fiscal 2016, the $8.35 million village firefighters pension fund about broke even-- it had $1.11 million in revenue and $1.04 million in expenses.
But the “revenue” wasn’t from investments-- $879,775 of it, or 80 percent, came from taxpayers.
North Riverside’s 14 active firefighters contributed eleven percent ($121,473) and the other nine percent ($106,096) came from investment income.
The fund paid out $1.005 million in pension payments to its seventeen retirees, mostly with tax dollars.
North Riverside Retired Firefighters
|Retired Firefighter||Pension Savings||Estimated Pension Collection|
|Kenneth J. Rouleau||$174,705||$4,368,173|
|Raymond A. Martinek||$128,151||$3,610,098|
|Carl M. Dropka||$151,335||$3,422,292|
|Dominic M. Salvino||$97,586||$2,815,141|
|John A. Zenger, Jr.||$73,942||$2,207,339|
|Arthur M. Janowiak||$59,695||$1,503,124|
|Anthony A. Novak||$56,537||$1,431,802|
|Thomas R. Bensfield||$32,145||$1,199,699|
|Robert P. Mullin||$13,894||$840,510|
|Richard J. Pierce||$11,572||$813,534|
|Data as of 4/30/2016|
|Source: Illinois Dept. of Insurance|
|North Riverside FP Fund Annual Statement||Fiscal 2015-2016|