Mayors want help with police, fire pensions

Updated 11/16/2010 4:51 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- A handful of suburban mayors lobbied lawmakers in Springfield Tuesday, asking for reforms to help them pay for the retirement plans of firefighters and police officers.

Paying for pensions of city and village safety officers has started to cripple budgets in recent years.

"Even though we're putting in tremendous amounts of money, we're not able to keep up," said Roselle Mayor Gayle Smolinski.

Their solution is to cut benefits for future police officers and firefighters in order to start saving money.

"The percentage of the total budget that goes to public safety is declining every year," said Elgin Mayor Ed Schock.

Schock says other services have to be cut as pension costs climb.

The mayors want the retirement age to get a full pension to be 60 years old for firefighters and police. Now, it's age 50.

And, an officer would need 35 years of service to get a full pension.

Critics of the plan have suggested, though, that it might not be appropriate for a 60-year-old to be working as a firefighter or beat cop.

Lawmakers raised the retirement age for future state workers earlier this year, but left police and firefighters out. Lawmakers could debate further changes later this week.

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