TUA’s pension project on Stephenson County, Illinois, is featured in this article from Journal-Standard.com.
journalstan_stephensonFREEPORT — A retired local teacher stands to collect $4.2 million over the course of his lifetime pension payout, according to Chicago-based organization Taxpayers United of America.
The group held a press conference Wednesday at the Freeport Hampton Inn at which it released documents naming scores of retired public employees in Stephenson County receiving what the group calls “gold-plated government pensions.”
The documents highlight one 2003 retiree from Freeport School District 145 who is receiving more than $130,000 in annual pension, increasing by 3 percent compounded interest per year. The organization said that retiree already received more than $1.1 million from the fund and stands to get $3 million more by the time he turns 85. The group said he contributed less than $120,000 to his pension and retired at age 56.
The group obtained the information by filing Freedom of Information Act requests with retirement systems such as the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and State Universities Retirement System, according to the organization’s executive director, Rae Ann McNeilly.
Taxpayers United of America is a self-described “tax fighting” organization formed 38 years ago. Members of the group have traveled to 19 states to disclose details of the results of their FOIA requests.
“It’s important to get these individual numbers out to the community to slice it down to the numbers that average taxpayers can understand and relate to,” McNeilly said.
Those numbers include the names of more than 150 former employees in Stephenson County that Taxpayers United of America say contributed less than 10 percent to their estimated lifetime pension payout.
Also highlighted was a Highland Community College retiree who had contributed more than $154,000 to a pension by the time he retired at age 55. The retiree receives more than $100,000 annually and could receive more than $3.3 million in estimated lifetime payout.
Highland spokesman Pete Willging said the college cannot discuss individual pensions, but the rules and laws behind pensions are not set locally.
“Pension numbers and the formulas that go into the retirement plans are established by the State Universities Retirement System and the laws overseeing it are set by the state,” Willging said.
Representatives from the State Universities Retirement System were not immediately available for comment.
McNeilly said the goal of Taxpayers United of America is to encourage pension reforms.