Round Lake Park borrowing $1.37 million for police pensions
Police pensions in Round Lake Park will be nearly fully funded after village officials this week authorized $1.37 million in borrowing to reduce their outstanding obligation.
The village board on Tuesday approved issuing $1.37 million in bonds, which will bring pensions to 89% funded, a day-and-night turnaround from a few years ago.
"We've been working very hard," Mayor Linda Lucassen said. "I want the public to be aware this is what we've done."
The police pension fund was only about 25% funded in 2016, when village officials asked voters for authority to borrow $5.4 million to reduce the village's obligation.
Voters previously rejected a similar request, but on the second try, 62% of the ballots cast were in favor.
The village initially issued about $4.03 million in bonds to apply to the police pension fund, the maximum allowed at the time.
But an outstanding tab for downtown redevelopment projects was paid, leaving room to borrow the rest of the voter-approved funds, according to village Treasurer Kris Conway.
"They go directly to the (police) pension. No stop here at village hall," she said.
This bond issue will run until 2037. The principal and interest, as is the case with the first bond issue, will be paid via a line item on property tax bills. Suburban police pensions are financed locally.
In Round Lake Park, the fund covers 12 full-time employees and several beneficiaries, according to Deputy Police Chief Dan Burch, who serves as president of the pension board.
"The biggest challenge for a lot of agencies has been getting the appropriate amount of funding from the villages," he said.
"It definitely gives a sense of relief or ease just seeing the funding is doing what it was designed for," he added.
Round Lake Park, like other communities, is watching how the state legislature acts on a recommendation to combine suburban and downstate police and firefighter pension funds in an effort to boost returns and cut costs. The matter could be addressed when the General Assembly reconvenes Nov. 12-14.