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updated: 12/2/2011 5:20 PM

Elburn voters likely to face police pension question

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Elburn voters might be asked in March to establish a tax to pay police pensions.

The village board will vote Monday on whether to put such a referendum on the March 20 ballot.

Residents can blame it on the village's growth. Once the village grew beyond 5,000 population in the 2010 Census, state law required it to change how it handles police officers' pensions.

Previously, Elburn has funded police pensions through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, as it does pensions for other full-time village workers. The village's annual contribution to that fund is calculated based on the number of workers, and it levies a tax for that. The employees also pay 4.5 percent of their gross pay to the IMRF.

But now the police will have to participate in a separate Elburn police pension fund. Besides the village's contribution, the police officers will have to put in 9.1 percent of their gross pay. The pension fund will be administered by a committee the village is establishing.

"We have to pay it regardless," Village President Dave Anderson said Friday. If voters don't approve the new tax levy, the village would have to pay the bill out of its corporate fund budget. The new tax, 8.68 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation, would raise about $163,000 in the first year, village officials estimate, and the owner of a $200,000 home would pay about $56.

The IMRF levy will decrease, Anderson said.

The new tax would be levied in December 2012 and collected in spring 2013.

The pension changes affect six full-time police officers.

Elburn tried to get the state law changed, to allow villages of more than 5,000 to keep police in the IMRF. 50th District State Rep. Kay Hatcher introduced such a bill, but it died in committee.

At previous meetings where the tax was discussed, some residents questioned whether Elburn really has 5,000 or more people, especially as houses go in to foreclosure. Anderson said the 2010 Census showed 5,506 residents, and he doubted the town had lost 500 people since then.

It could conduct a special census, but the last time it did one in the mid-2000s, the village had to pay about $150,000 to do so. "We do not have $150,000 to fund a separate census," Anderson said, plus he's not sure that the state would let Elburn go back to the IMRF even if the population dropped.

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