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Local News

Pensions, vehicles head list of growing Joliet expenses

Council meets Wednesday for next budget review

The rising costs of city pensions and replacement of aging vehicles lead the list of growing expenses for 2020 in an analysis prepared for the Joliet City Council budget meeting Wednesday.
The rising costs of city pensions and replacement of aging vehicles lead the list of growing expenses for 2020 in an analysis prepared for the Joliet City Council budget meeting Wednesday.

The rising cost of city pensions leads the list of growing expenses for 2020 in an analysis prepared for the Joliet City Council budget meeting Wednesday.

Pension costs will rise by $2.7 million for Joliet in 2020.

That’s nearly a third of the $8.3 million in additional expenses that the city plans to partially fund with increases in gas taxes, hotel taxes and assorted fees.

Other big increases in the analysis include $1.8 million to replacing aging equipment and vehicles, $722,000 in fire department overtime, and other salary and professional contracting costs.

Joliet and other cities are putting more money into police and fire pensions under a state plan aimed at raising the levels at which the pensions are funded.

“It’s been the norm for the past few years because the state passed a law that we have to be 90% vested by 2040,” Finance Director James Ghedotte said.

The police pension currently is funded at 55%, and the fire department pension is at 53%.

Ghedotte said in a budget presentation last month that Joliet also is paying more into the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund for employees covered by that fund when they cash out unused vacation and sick time upon retirement.

The analysis also includes a comparison of Joliet gas and hotel taxes with other communities.

The budget calls for an increase in the Joliet gas tax, from the current rate of a penny a gallon to 4 cents a gallon, which would raise an additional $1.8 million.

According to the analysis, the Joliet rate would compare to Aurora at 4 cents, Lockport at 5 cents, Channahon at 4 cents, Manhattan at 2 cents, Naperville at 4 cents, Plainfield at 6 cents, Romeoville at 6 cents and Bolingbrook at 7 cents. Lockport, Channahon and Romeoville also impose higher tax rates on diesel fuel.

The 7% hotel tax would increase to 10% in the budget, raising nearly $1.2 million in additional revenue.

Neighboring hotel tax rates include Bolingbrook’s 11%, Romeoville’s 9%, Tinley Park’s 6%, New Lenox’s 6%, Naperville’s 5.5%, Shorewood’s 5%, Plainfield’s 5% and Orland Park’s 5%.

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