The Joliet police and fire pension funds are about 53 percent funded, which officials said is close to the average in Illinois.
Accountants presented an annual report on the city’s police and fire pension funds last month to the City Council’s Finance Committee.
The combined 53 percent rate for the two funds is close to the average for municipal police and fire funds, Bob Rietz, an accountant with Lauterbach & Amen, told the committee at its Dec. 18 meeting.
Rietz told the committee that Joliet is “on an improved trend” and on pace to be fully funded in 2044, the state-set target for bringing police and fire funds across Illinois to 100 percent funding.
“As you keep going forward, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, hopefully,” Rietz said.
Joliet police pensions are funded at 54 percent. Fire pensions are funded at 52 percent.
Unfunded liability totals
$341 million. Of that, unfunded liability in the police fund is $193 million. Unfunded liability in the fire fund is $148 million.
Both the city and employees will contribute increasing amounts to the pension funds until they are fully funded in 2044, according to the report. The city’s contribution comes through property taxes.
Joliet in the coming year will levy for nearly $30.5 million in property taxes to fund the police and fire pensions. The pension contributions make up the bulk of the city’s total property tax levy of $43.3 million.
Finance Director James Ghedotte said he sets the levy for the police and fire pensions at 101 percent of the required city contribution “in case collections come in less than expected.”
The city will be required to contribute $30.2 million to the pension funds, up from $28 million the year before.
Benefit payments out of the funds also are growing.
Roughly $24 million in benefits are being paid now. That is expected to grow in five years to nearly $37 million. In 10 years, benefit payments are projected to reach nearly $51 million, according to the report.