PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria is one of 102 cities receiving a grade of ‘F’ in a May 5 report on local pension costs in Illinois’ 175 largest cities, excluding Chicago.
A research study from Wirepoints, a nonprofit research organization that focuses on Illinois’ economy and government, shows pension debts are rising at the expense of local public services like infrastructure and public safety.
A prior study released in 2003 awarded an ‘F’ to just nine cities.
“Nobody’s winning – retirement security is collapsing for our important police and fire workers, our taxpayers feel like they have nothing else to do but leave, and the core services are being slashed in order to make room,” said Ted Dabrowski, president of Wirepoints.
State Rep. Win Stoller (R-Germantown Hills) said even though Peoria rejected a tax increase for funding pension, taxpayers are still on the hook and get nothing in return.
“We have implemented in Peoria a pension fee, and that is just another tax to try to fund our pension problem in Peoria. Already almost 100% of our property taxes go towards funding our pensions. When we do that, we’re taking resources away from the things to be spending money on – our infrastructure, our schools, our healthcare, our public safety, and those things need our investment,” he said.
Stoller said people are moving out of Illinois in droves because of higher taxes and fewer public services.
“Because we are neglecting those important services, and the more we rob the resources from them just for this pension problem because we continue to ignore it, the more people will leave our state,” he said.
The study, comparing 2019 to 2003, found Peoria taxpayers contributed 3.5 times more to pensions, yet city pension debts are 3.5 times more than they were 16 years ago.
Stoller called for Democrats and Republicans to come together to solve the problem.
“The solution is not to put our head in the sand, ignoring the problem, and just hoping it goes away. We have to address that and we have to shine a light on it,” he said.