Oak Lawn officials to forgo taxpayer-funded pensions
The Oak Lawn Village Board, split by allegiances, has voted to no longer fund pensions for elected officials including the mayor and six trustees.
On one hand, Mayor Sandra Bury said the action is being taken to stave off a looming financial crisis down the road when municipalities have to pay pensions to former municipal employees.
On the other, trustee Bob Streit (3rd), who cast one of the two dissenting votes, said it smacks more of political grandstanding, noting the pension funding came to about $325 per trustee each year.
Bury, whose vote wasn’t cast in the 4-2 decision, said the system in place allows for potential abuses down the line.
“If you are a trustee for 20 years and then take a job for $80,000 a year, your pension is based on that. This is something we felt important to do and sets the tone as we go forward,” Bury said.
“If Trustee Streit doesn’t think this pension crisis is a real issue, I hope he is (still on the board) in (future years) to help me find a solution. We campaigned on this and we are moving forward,” Bury said.
Newly elected trustee Mike Carberry (6th) proposed the measure which was opposed by Streit and trustee Carol Quinlan (5th).
Trustees Streit, Quinlan and Alex Olejniczak (2nd) are not losing their pensions, nor is the village clerk but no more funding will be made to those.
And newly elected trustees won’t get pension funding.
“It’s not pension reform. It’s really pension elimination,” Streit said Friday. “It’s a political ploy, ‘Look at what we’re doing. We’re eliminating pensions.’ What you did, on six trustees you saved under $2,000 a year.”
Carberry said the public has been asking for pension reform.
“People are frustrated and angry at politicians for the stalling and inaction on pension reform, and they are tired of all the gimmicks and abuses that have drained our pensions to the point of bankruptcy” Carberry said in a prepared statement.
“With this vote Oak Lawn is putting the interests of the taxpayers ahead of the politicians and taking a leadership role in helping address our state’s pension problems,” Carberry said.
The trustees who joined Carberry in the vote were Olejniczak, Tim Desmond (1st) and Terry Vorderer (4th).
Carberry, Olejniczak, Desmond and Bury ran for election in April on a platform called “Oak Lawn First” that promised pension reform. Vorderer ran as an independent.