Island Lake officials promise to make pension fund whole
Making good on a $390,000 debt to Island Lake's police pension fund could take village officials three or four years, Mayor Charles Amrich said Thursday night.
But however long it takes, Amrich again promised to restore the fund.
"We will make the police pension board whole on this," Amrich said.
Amrich's comments came during a special board meeting called to discuss the pension issue. But the sessions didn't last long, only 30 minutes or so.
The shortfall in the pension fund, which provides monthly payments to qualified retirees, was discovered during a commissioned audit last year.
Concerns about the village's finances and legal bills that totaled more than $1 million in recent years prompted the inquiry.
According to the audit report, the village received $513,316 in tax funds for the police pension fund between the 2010 and 2013 fiscal years. But of that sum, only $142,777 was paid into the fund, an estimated 27 percent.
The missing payments occurred during Debbie Herrmann's time as mayor. She lost to current Mayor Charles Amrich this past spring.
According to the audit, payments to the pension fund started flowing properly in the current fiscal year, after Amrich took office.
The issue became public in late October, following media reports.
Thursday's meeting ended without any ideas suggested by board members or other village officials.
Near the start of the meeting, Village Attorney David McArdle said officials hoped to get public input on the matter. They did, from several residents and a few former board members in the audience.
Ex-trustee Sam Cicero suggested three possible solutions: borrowing money to cover the debt; using money from video gambling revenue; or raising taxes by putting a referendum on a future ballot.
"I think it's time to raise the tax levy," Cicero said.
Amrich responded by saying he isn't keen on a tax increase.
"That is a last resort," Amrich said. "I am 100 percent against that."
McArdle warned that the police pension board could file a lawsuit over the shortfall. Members of the pension board were in the audience Thursday and answered a few questions about the fund, which they said is an estimated $3 million.
Little said he hopes officials will have a proposal for the pension board by early March.