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updated: 5/29/2017 7:09 PM

Bill to stop cop pension double dipping, based on Naperville case, passes

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  • State Rep. Grant Wehrli co-sponsored legislation aimed at curbing pension double dipping that passed in Springfield Monday.

    State Rep. Grant Wehrli co-sponsored legislation aimed at curbing pension double dipping that passed in Springfield Monday.

  • State Sen. Michael Connelly co-sponsored legislation aimed at curbing pension double dipping that passed in Springfield Monday.

    State Sen. Michael Connelly co-sponsored legislation aimed at curbing pension double dipping that passed in Springfield Monday.

 
 

Retired police officers who collect pension checks will be curbed from double dipping under a measure passed Monday by the state legislature.

State Rep. Grant Wehrli and state Sen. Michael Connelly, both Naperville Republicans, sponsored the measure to prevent retired cops from returning to an active-duty job and being eligible for a second police pension or one through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Instead, retirees will enroll in a 401(k)-style plan.

"The loophole in current law that allows double-dipping into the police pension systems is costing municipalities and local taxpayers a fortune," Wehrli said in a Monday news release.

"Retired law enforcement officers have earned their pensions, but they should not be entitled to multiple pensions that we can't afford."

The legislation stems from a 2012 dispute on whether Naperville police Chief Robert Marshall should be eligible for police pension payments after returning to the department.

Marshall retired from a 28-year career with the Naperville Police Department and took a job as the assistant city manager. Seven years later, he became the police chief and continued receiving police pension payments.

In 2012, the Illinois Department of Insurance challenged the pension payouts, arguing the payments should stop because Marshall was a police officer again. A DuPage County judge ruled Marshall should continue getting the payments, because he never technically resumed active service in the force when he became chief.

At the same time, Marshall has been participating in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. This year, the city will contribute $19,221 to the plan on top of his $168,785 salary.

The legislation will not prevent Marshall from participating in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund because it would apply to employees who join the system after 2018, said Ellie Bretzman, a Senate Republican spokeswoman.

The legislation, which gained bipartisan support, will go to Gov. Bruce Rauner for consideration.

"Illinois' pension system is in dire need of repair as our pension liabilities continue to rack up," Connelly said in a statement. "While I recognize that many changes need to occur within the current system, this legislation at least gets us going in the right direction."

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