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posted: 8/13/2013 6:00 PM

Numbers show fire plan is irresponsible

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In 1992, (Barrington) Village President Ted Forsberg convinced his board that starting a firefighter pension would cost "$4 million in four years." He used this claim to replace the traditional 24/48 hour shift schedule with 8-hour shifts and cut minimum staffing from 3 to 2.

He neglected to analyze staffing requirements for 8-hour shifts and merely implemented this plan with the existing staff of nine.

It cost village taxpayers over $40,000 in overtime over three months, drastically impacted the safety of the community, and resulted in the removal of all board conspirators in the next election.

To date, 18 years later with 55 participants, village taxpayer contributions to the firefighter's pension is just approaching $2.5 million dollars.

Now, Village President Karen Darch has convinced her board that the village is going to incur "$90 million in pension liability" if it continues its intergovernmental relationship with the fire district.

Like her predecessor, this has been done without adequate analysis of the cost. The initial plan is to reduce staffing to four firefighters and a shift commander and to staff ambulances once again with only two. This level of staffing is ridiculously inadequate, yet will cost an additional $1.1 million annually.

To maintain the current level of service would require building a second fire station and staffing nine per day at a cost increase of over $2.6 million annually.

The $90 million claim is inflammatory as it only represents a worst-case total cost and does not include any revenue from contributions and investment. To date, the fund has $13 million in assets with annual payouts of $260,000.

The cost of the fire pension to village taxpayers in 2012? $222,000 or $30.34 of a $5,000 tax bill.


Char McLear


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