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By: Mark Glennon*

An unprecedented appellate court decision this month ordered an Illinois city to approve a property tax levy specifically for its firefighters’ pension. That city, Harvey, already has effective tax rates of 5.7% for residential and 14.3% for commercial properties.

It’s a historic decision that may be the first of similar ones to come — eventually — for many of Illinois’ 600-plus local police and firefighter pensions.

The full decision by the First District Appellate Court of Illinois is linked here.

The Illinois Supreme Court had earlier made clear that benefits owed by pensions to retirees cannot be reduced under the Illinois Constitution. It had also made clear that, if a fund were to run dry, retirees could directly sue the municipality sponsoring the pension. However, no Illinois court had ever specifically ordered a tax to fund pensions.

Little known, however, was that Illinois courts also had indicated pensions need not run entirely dry before they would act. Now one court has acted by ordering a tax levy and payment of damages.

The court affirmed an injunction issued by the trial court requiring Harvey “to approve a line-item property tax levy specifically for the Pension Fund, which would be sufficient to meet the annual actuarial requirements” — basically, an “ARC” payment equal to normal costs plus an amount sufficient to get the pension to 90% funding by 2040.

It also awarded damages to the pension of about $15 million, consisting mostly of the difference, for previous years, between the actuarially required contribution and the lower amount Harvey actually contributed. How that damage award will be collected from Harvey isn’t clear. If it’s not directly included in the amount of the property tax assessment ordered by the court, it seems that deficiency would be indirectly reflected in future contribution requirements to be covered by that assessment, unless it’s somehow paid separately.

The appellate court decision turned on whether Harvey’s firefighter pension was “on the verge of default or imminent bankruptcy.”  That’s the standard it applied for determining when it may step in to order a property tax levy.

The court based its decision partially on the financial state of the city, too. So, courts apparently are supposed to play the role of financial analysts for municipalities as well as pensions when they decide whether to start forcing taxes.

To put this more simply, we have a court now ordering blood out of a turnip. Harvey is broke and property in Harvey is already obscenely overtaxed. But it’s the very fact that Harvey is a bloodless turnip that helps makes it subject to court-ordered tax. Because they can’t pay, they have to pay, according to the court’s thinking.

This step raises many questions that would be difficult or impossible for any court to answer. Few of those questions are answered in the 82-page opinion, which is a garbled mess.

The initial, obvious question is this: Just how bad off does a pension have to be before a court will start ordering taxes for it? Is Harvey uniquely bad or will other towns and cities, now or later, meet its fate?

Harvey, unquestionably, presented an extreme set of facts. Graft and mismanagement have long plagued the city and it is far beyond insolvent. In recent years it underfunded its pension to an extreme, even by Illinois standards.

On the other hand, its most recent actuarial report, according to the court, says the pension was 27% funded and many of Illinois’ municipal police and firefighter funds are bleeding down towards that level. Chicago’s four pensions combined are only 21% funded.

Chicago and most other Illinois municipalities, however, are in infinitely better shape than Harvey.

Still, we simply don’t know how sick a pension will have to be to trigger a similar ruling.

For starters, what on earth does the court’s standard mean — “on the verge of default or imminent bankruptcy”? The opinion quotes one of the testifying experts saying the Harvey pension was seven to nine years away from insolvency. Some of Chicago’s pensions have been predicted to run dry that soon, too. In fact, here’s what the most recent actuarial report says, in boldface, for Chicago’s largest pension, MEABF: “The Fund is in imminent danger of insolvency. Without increased funding, the Fund is projected to become insolvent within the next 9 years (during 2025).”

The standard itself derives from a comment made by a delegate at the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention. Should that really be taken literally? In its opinion the court actually referenced the dictionary definition of “verge” to figure out what that standard means. Good grief.

A perfectly reasonable case could also be made that pensions are effectively doomed long before they’re as bad off as Harvey’s. I’m quite sure most actuaries would agree with my view that those under 50% funded are toast, except in very prosperous communities that could make up the deficiencies. Well, the average pension in Illinois is under 50% funded, as one of the testifying experts quoted in the opinion says.

Then there’s the damage claim the court approved. Here, they clearly blew it. Harvey tried to explain that the annual differences between an ARC payment and the payment actually made shouldn’t be added up because a deficiency in one year raises the ARC payment in subsequent years. The court didn’t understand, apparently. Will future courts likewise not understand? That would expose the countless Illinois municipalities that underfund their pensions to massive damages claims as their pensions bleed down.

And you could certainly argue that ARC payments aren’t sufficient to begin with. Targeting 90% funding, as ARC payments do, is just assuming away part of the problem, and ARC payments are based on widely criticized assumptions about rates of return and other matters. Actuary Mary Pat Campbell posted an interesting piece just this week on why  even pensions that receive full ARC payments often end up underfunded anyway.

Keep thinking about this path the court has put us on and you’ll come up with more questions. Does the precedent apply to all municipalities or just home rule ones? Do property tax caps now in place trump the court’s decision or vice versa? Are there implications for the state’s own pensions? I don’t know.

Many of these questions probably will end up in other courts. Unless the General Assembly steps in or the Illinois Supreme Court reverses and sets an entirely different course, a morass of litigation lies ahead. The First District court bears little blame for this because it was mostly just applying the statutes and precedent laid out for it by the General Assembly and Illinois Supreme Court.

A final note on the humanitarian aspects of all this.

The notion that something will be fixed by ordering higher property taxes on a city like Harvey, already in a death spiral partly because of its rates, should be taken as an insult not just to the intelligence of Illinoisans but to their consciences.

The stories of pension excess — which are all too common and contributed heavily to the crisis — soon will be matched by stories of desperation. Where will retirees in broke towns with pensions that run dry turn? There is no answer.

Comprehensive, real pension reform should have been undertaken years ago.  It has to be orderly, rational, free of extensive litigation and focused on protecting not just taxpayers but reasonably sized pensions retirees truly need. Today in Illinois we have only two legal routes for accomplishing that reform — a state constitutional amendment to delete the pension protection clause (which might not work because of federal constitutional issues) or federal bankruptcy.

Time compounds the crisis. Will we never get on with it?

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.

UPDATED 8/23/19 to add the quote from the MEABF actuarial report.

 

 

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Doug

If the judges prevail, then most definitely 2 DIFFERENT DISCOUNT RATES need to be used, a lower one for must pay liabilities, and a higher one for uncertain risky asset return. This would create near bankruptcy overnight, as no Illinois or Chicago plan could survive.

Mike
Some US Census QuickFacts for Harvey. Population Change – negative 1.3% (4/1/2010 – 7/1/2016). Housing Units – 9,805 (April 1, 2010). Owner Occupied Housing Unit Rate – 43% (2011 – 2015). Median Value of Owner Occupied Housing Units – $77,000 (2011 – 2015). Bachelors Degree or Higher – 9% (those 25 yrs or older, 2011 – 2015). Median Household Income – $22,014 (2011 – 2015, in 2015 dollars). Persons in Poverty – 36%. Persons without health insurance – 25% (under age 65). Language other than English Spoken at Home – 20% (2011 – 2015, aged 5+). Black or African American – 76% (4/1/2010). White alone – 4%… Read more »
Tough Love

It’s your LAST one.

Adam

Hey Mark, please respond: We all know they cannot order taxes to be raised for very long, reality and math will win out. Harvey cannot pay much more in taxes, and anyone who argues that is a fool. So, what is the end game if courts keep trying to do this? It simply will not work. People only have so much money to go around. The end.

Evan

Better Flee Illinois soon before you won’t be able to sell your home.
Indiana has its arms wide open.

bob Fairfield OH

Did that a month ago. Wait until the automatic property tax increases to fund pensions start in 2020 for Chicago residents.

Rex the Wonder Dog!

If there was EVER a case that needed clarification from the IL Supreme Court this is IT!

Rob\'t E. Lee

Since when can a judge directly impose/order a tax? I thought only the legislature could do that? Welcome to your new Ruler. Don’t need no stinkin’ mayor or city council. YOU WILL PAY!!!!!

The rich will never let the cops and firemen suffer in this country.

They know the consequences.

Tough Love
Go ahead Gerald, tell us those “consequences”. Are they going to pull out their guns and threaten the judges, the Elected Officials, or even ren-of-the-mill Taxpayer who opposes their ludicrously excessive pensions and benefits. There are cameras and recorders everywhere today, and threats & extortion have consequences. Empty bullying with no more than threatening to withhold votes and support. So what, in short order all of these Plans will fail and the Judges, the Elected Officials, the Taxpayers, AS WELL AS the younger-lower-service Officers (who realize how THEIR contributions are simply going out-the-door to pay for the excessive retirements of those that preceded them) will throw all… Read more »
j.a. herzrent

Sounds like extortion to me. I gotta deal you can’t refuse. What to well-trained law enforcement officers think?

NB-Chicago
fantastic article Mark. The Harvey firefighter pension can only be the first of many, many more pension bankruptcys to come. I’ve tried to make the point many times, Madigan & CO are trying to bail out the bankrupt CPS teachers pensions with there version of SB1 ( to the tune of $215 mil a year). So, if Rauners veto is overridden, then what stops the state from bailing out all the other pensions in the state? why should CPS pension get bailed out and not the Harvey firefighters and all the other countless underwater pensions. Who and by what standards in state gov would decide which pensions… Read more »
NB-Chicago

If SB1 passes as is, with $215 mill a year bailout for CPS pension, then the Harvey & the Harvey prop owners should demand EQUAL state bailout money for there pensions as well. same for every prop owner in state.

The talk from the big whigs in the union is that the Fed is working on this issue.This is not just an isolated Illinois problem,it’s nationwide.The word is that pension bonds will be issued and bought by the Fed itself.The pensions must be protected at all cost.

NB-Chicago

Gerald, you can already buy endless amounts of risky Illinois junk bonds for all the other state and municiple debit. do you or your pension own any of those bonds? would you or your pension buy any of your fed pension bailout bonds? What would those federal pension bailout bonds be back with?–Illinois homes? or Madigan printen up endless IOU’s? The feds going to buy it’s own debit for you alone? do you know or care about anybody but yourself?

Tough Love
Quoting Gerald Moriarty …. “The pensions must be protected at all cost.” Why? What makes Public Sector workers so “special” that they deserve roughly equal pay but taxpayer-funded pensions and benefits now ROUTINELY 2 to 4 times (4 to 6 times for Safety workers) greater in “value upon retirement*” than those typically granted comparable Private Sector workers who retire at the SAME age, with the SAME pay, and the SAME years of service? ———————————————- * “value upon retirement” encompassing BOTH the richer pension “formulas” and the significant incremental value of COLA increases (unheard of in Private Sector pensions) and being able to begin collect that pension 5,… Read more »
Joe

What makes them “special” is that they routinely put themselves in harms way to protect the public. In my opinion, the courts have it right. You have to protect the benefits of police officers and firefighters at all costs. They earn these benifits through service to the public, and because of the unusual risks they take for the public.

Shawn

What if we don’t agree with you? What if we decide 100k+ salaries + pensions are not justified for govt employees and we dump our properties and leave?

The answer? Nothing. You’ll moan and whine and force your union boss stooges to suck off the tit of fed printed money just like everyone else does until the price of bacon hits 45$ a pound.

Marcia

I believe more garbage collectors die in the line of duty.

Tough Love

I’d bet that that’s YOUR opinion because you (or a family member) is now (or expects to be) collecting a Public Sector pension ….. hardly an unbiased opinion.

Yes, Police protect the public, but the “risk” is WAY WAY WAY overblown with Police Officers not even on the US Gov’t Bureau Of Labor Statistics list of the 10 most dangerous occupations. And ALL of those occupations, with the exception of Commercial Airline Pilots, make MUCH less than Police Officers, and few (if ANY) get DB pensions and retiree healthcare benefits.

Jim Palermo

The talk I’ve heard is that the Republicans in Congress have little appetite for bailing out the failing blue state public pensions, just as they’ve opposed relief for Puerto Rico.

Doug

No, the pensions must not be protected at all cost. The corrupt mobster Democrats caused this and right honorable Nebraskans, Texans, Floridians will not want to pay the price with a inflationary worthless currency.

Rick

Great article Mark.

Paul

Oh by the way Mark this was a really good article. Folks are fired up which is good. Too many people are sleep walkin and drinkin the koolaid. Hard fact of the matter is insolvency is here now staring us in the face.

Tough Love
If they can, Harvey needs to file Bankruptcy to take these matters OUT of the hands of Ill judges and into the jurisdiction of the Federal Bankruptcy Court …where a Court can and SHOULD VERY materially reduced the promised pensions, ALL THEY WAY down to a level no greater than that which typical Private Sector workers would get if retiring at the SAME age, with the SAME pay, and the SAME years of service. And given the LUDICROUSLY generous pension (in BOTH formulas AND provisions such as VERY young full retirement ages), the reduction needed to reach that equivalence with their Private Sector counterparts is likely no… Read more »
nixit

An interesting case for the ACLU…forcing a 95% minority population to pay the pension benefits of retirees who I’d guess are primarily Caucasian and male. In these SJW times, it seems like the smart play.

Justme

Very good observation. No one has ever brought that up as you did . People who can least afford it are paying for the retirement of well paid people who can afford to pay your own .

Erik

Excellent essay Mark. To me this is the most frightening development yet in Illinois’ unfolding saga. Where does this stop? How can a judge who will receive a state pension be considered impartial? How does a ruling like this square with our federal constitutional protections? No rational person can consider this taxation. This is outright confiscation.

Paul

Right on point Erik!!! This is why the colonies broke from England. And they had a King who had an army to enforce his edict. What do the justices have? Words!!! Meaningless! What’s next they gonna pass a ruling that all residents are to halt all movement and pay that tax. And what’s with the 82 pages??? They’d been better off telling the plaintiffs to seek criminal charges or get whatever assets Harvey has. This is truly tragic!!!

T B
Our pensions have been part of our contracts for years now.You people act as if this was a surprise sprung upon the population.Perhaps you should hold those that have(had) managed the tax revenue in a responsible manner? You don’t just spend your whole paycheck on 40’s and expect the lights to stay on when you failed to budget for the bill. The properties that go into default should also be deeded to the pension funds,rather than the same city managers that squandered the taxes paid. To answer someones question on confiscation.Your car gets confiscated when you don’t make the payments.Your house will be confiscated if we don’t… Read more »
Tough Love

To take Wirepoints’ respond a bit further, YOU are a ….”breathtaking combination of greed and stupidity”.

Not one tear will be shed WHEN (not IF) YOUR pension is reduced (hopefully by AT LEAST 50%.

Justme

Tough Love has it right

Erik

Gerald, the flip side of the coin is that Illinois taxpayers paid their grossly excessive property taxes year after year and were told the tax revenues were sufficient to pay your pension. You reference state legislators and our need to hold them responsible, but avoid the uncomfortable fact that the state union employees marched in lock step to the polls decade after decade to elect the democrat monkeys that put us in this position. Now you want the keys to my house. A breaking point is drawing near. Promises that can’t be kept won’t be kept. This is going to end badly for all of us.

Union employees don’t elect legislators,voters do.The legislators represent the voters.It seems the voters were fine putting the pension and health benefits on the credit card to continue other non-related services to the state and communities.We saw this coming and supported legislation that municipal bankruptcy could not be used as an escape hatch to contractual obligations.It passed with very little in the way of resistance from voters. Everyone was aware of the obligations.

Trump preventing immigration will cause the conflict sooner,rather than later.It was(is) our intention to grow the population greatly.With the numbers,so too comes the ability to pay.
500 to 600 million is the goal that we have been shooting for.This means the importation of 150-250 million more souls into our great country.The disappointing birthrate is responsible for our current pension woes.Who knew that people would stop having babies?
Our African and middle eastern brethren will alleviate our lack of procreation,just as soon as we get Trump out of The White House.

Rick
Gerald, Now you’ve jumped the shark. Blaming decades of the mishandling of your pension, before your very eyes no less, and you pull immigration and trump out as the cause now? Wow, you must really be at the very end of any intellectual defense of how your pension was handled. For now the courts are apparently going to go after the residents for your money. This will be ugly, Madigan and your Union have played musical chairs with the residents there for decades. Now many residents won’t find an empty chair when the music stops. But you might get a portion of your money. Most of Harvey… Read more »
Tough Love

Gerald,

The level of your greed is palpable………………. and sickening.

Erik

You gave me a good laugh today Gerald. Are you having fun yet? You appear to be trolling this site just for kicks. I’ll stop taking the bait.

Doug

Ha, you can take my worthless house, it’s even more worthless with you running the local govt.. You can’t live and eat and pay health care off a worthless house, it’s worthless.

We can rent them back to local and state governments for rehab facilities from the opioid epidemic.If we get federal grants,we can charge top dollar,and have a union staff as well.
Billions being thrown at the drug crisis.Our union reps have the connections to tap into those funds and turn your worthless house into a cash machine.

We will also need housing for refugees coming to this country.After the 2020 election the democrat President of the United States will open up our borders with welcoming arms.Sub-Saharan Africans will make up the lion’s share,since we destroyed their growing ability with climate change from our carbon emissions.

They will love your house Doug.

nixit

So as I understand it, the public sector pension fund’s plan would be to convert confiscated real estate to either drug addiction zones or District 9. No interest in investing pension dollars in the restoration of an impoverished minority community. Love it when the true colors of public sector beliefs come shining through.

District 9 – Perfect comparison!
Have you seen parts of Minnesota yet?
All protected under the Constitution and defended by the ACLU-so you are paying for both sides of legal arguments

Only in America baby!

Doug

And your pension will still be zero.

j.a. herzrent

And once the pension fund is empty of all but empty houses, perhaps the pensioners can live in them rent free. If they still have their chops and get to keep their weapons, it’ll become one of the safest cities in Illinois. Then housing prices will increase, the pension trustees can sell the houses for big bucks, and the plan will resume solvency and restart pensions. You thought Rube Goldberg was creative!

Skeletor
The mention that police, fire and teachers don’t pay into Soc. Sec. is true. But what was omitted from this thread is that they do pay into their pension. Police pay almost 10% and Fire 9.5%, without a cap. That means when someone paying Soc. pays over x amount, they get it back at the end of the year. That doesnt happen with civil servants. Contributions to the pensions are always made by the civil servants. Everyone else contributes to Soc Sec expecting a payout in the end. Same goes for these people. Another thing, they risk their lives every time the call goes out. Get exposed… Read more »
Tough Love

Very convenient of you to leave out that ALL of the employee’s own pension contributions (INCLUDING investment income) through their retirement date rarely accumulates to a sum sufficient to buy more than 10% to 20% of the ludicrously excessive pensions they they were “promised” …… with the Taxpayers “responsible” for the remaining 80% to 90% of total Plan costs.

Well, the Taxpayer AREN’T stupid ……and won’t be paying for your pension now in a “death spiral”.

I suggest you develop a “Plan B” for your retirement needs.

The pensions will remain intact.Without cops and firemen the US turns into Mosul.The rich don’t care for caos,they will make policy to keep their protection paid,I promise.

j.a. herzrent
This is the ultimate and usually unspoken threat: that solidarity between active and retired public safety employees will result in the actives sitting down on the job and exposing the public to chaos. This is the same reasoning that prompts governments everywhere to look after the military with privileges and pensions. Public order comes before everything else. Given the critical importance of public order, those who maintain order deserve more than anyone else. It’s another form of “protection racket” — a type of thuggery that mobsters and drug lords have perfected around the world. Public safety officers aren’t the only offenders. Disruptive demonstrators across the political spectrum… Read more »

Wrong,if you raise the cap on Social Security from $106,000 per year the problem is solved for 75 years or more.The cap has been there for 20+ years,right along with the minimum wage.
Social Security should have no cap.
The minimum wage should be indexed to inflation.
Estate Tax should be strengthened to ease the concentrated wealth dilemma which is worse than at any time in our history.

There’s 3 problems solved that are only controversial to the top 5% of our population.

The MOST IMPORTANT problem this country faces is campaign contributions.If you don’t fix that,you will NEVER fix anything.

Tough Love
(1) Quoting Gerald Moriarty………. “Wrong,if you raise the cap on Social Security from $106,000 per year the problem is solved for 75 years or more” (2) Quoting Gerald Moriarty ………. “The cap has been there for 20+ years,right along with the minimum wage.” Ah shucks, and you’ve been tying to come off as one of those “Best and Brightest” Public Sector workers that Taxpayers have been told that they must pay so much for. Earth to Gerald………………. The Social Security wage base hasn’t been $106K (actually $106.8K) since 2011. Since then it has risen annually to $127.2K for year 2017. And 20 years ago (in 1997) it… Read more »

I’ll give you that.I stand corrected on my figures.You do however realize that even at $127,000 per year cap on Social Security is a joke in 2017.We have school administrators making $400k/yr. never mind your private sector titans making $400mil. hell,there are a few people making $1 Billion per year in this country.
Eliminate the cap and the problem is solve.Paying the extra tax by the $1 billion club prevents people such as yourselves from showing up at the estate gates with torches and pitchforks when their checks don’t come.
no?

Tough Love
Quoting Gerald Moriarty ….. “Eliminate the cap and the problem is solve.” Doing so could even also solve the problem if your pensions were 2x or 4x or 5x greater than the already ludicrous level that is promised today. Get the point? The answer is NOT to search for revenue to pay what is unnecessary, unjust, unfair to taxpayers, unaffordable, and clearly excessive, but to eliminate that excess. As I asked earlier……………… What makes Public Sector workers so “special” that they deserve roughly equal pay but taxpayer-funded pensions and benefits now ROUTINELY 2 to 4 times (4 to 6 times for Safety workers) greater in “value upon… Read more »

That’s why we took the job.It’s no picnic being a cop or firemen.Your family generally get ripped apart eventually,because of hours and holidays.

We worked for the benefits.It was a contract just as valid as your home mortgage.

Tough Love

Gerald Moriarty,

Pensions are a “MATH” problem (the pensions cannot possibly be paid “as promised”) ….. and in the end-game, the MATH always wins.

nixit
The point of a cap on Social Security was to remove volatility from the calculation and the only way to do that was to set a statutory limit on the amount of income that could be taxed. The Feds set that limit well below the income levels that were the most volatile from year to year: highest income earners. So there is a method to their madness. If you remove the cap, you then allow millionaires to collect Social Security. If you want to label it a welfare tax (which it kinda is but no one wants to admit it), then you have to subject all income,… Read more »

Agreed,just so long as stock market gains along with 401k’s at the same rate.What you don’t get is that we signed up and worked these jobs specifically for the defined pensions and healthcare.Now you want to move the goal posts in the forth quarter ’cause you aint got the ball.

Tough Love

Quoting Gerald Moriarty ……..

“What you don’t get is that we signed up and worked these jobs specifically for the defined pensions and healthcare.”

And what you want to ignore is that the Taxpayers have wised up to how you were fraudulently granted such ludicrous pension & benefits ….. by your Unions’ BUYING of the favorable votes of the Elected Officials with BRIBES disguised as campaign contributions and election support.

Sorry buddy, but the gig’s up and Taxpayers won’t be paying for that collusion & thievery.

Doug

There are easily 1 million job applicants around the country just as qualified, probably more, to take the police and fireman job’s with similar pay but with a 401k matching style retirement plan. If they don’t want a 401k style plan too bad.

Tough Love

Indeed, and such a structure (with 401K-style plans for Police) woks PERFECTLY in Sandy Springs Georgia.

All but Police and just a handful of administrators are OUTSOURCED workers, and NOBODY get a DB pensions.

nixit

I’ve been putting over 10% into my 401k on top of paying 6.2% into social security. Add the 6.2% my employer puts in for the social security match that could have otherwise gone into my gross wages means that 25% of my career earnings goes into retirement, compared to only 10% for your police officer. And it’ll be an inferior retirement package.

Why don’t retired fire fighters across the state band together and donate 3% of their pensions to Harvey to help shore up the pension fund? Help their fellow brothers in need?

P Quilici
Perhaps, the state constitutional amendment needed is to remove government pension issues from pensioned state judges. But what court could provide an impartial hearing? Assuming the issue could be heard in federal court, those judges also have fed gov pensions. And a few may have earned an IL gov pension due to prior service. Conflicts of interest abound, and the recent state, Cook and Chicago tax increases should be fair warning that the pols in Illinois will destroy the private sector to protect gov pensions. And judging from the article, the state judiciary is on board. I guess it’s better than hooded thugs beating down the door… Read more »
Doug

“I guess it’s better than hooded thugs beating down the door in the middle of the night.” That will soon come to when they realize they can do it and most probably get away with it.

sal outlander

This should be a wake up call to other states and their taxpayers with this underfunded pension .Leave while you can .

Jim Palermo

Brilliant piece Mark. All of your readers should send this link to their local elected officials; in my experience, precious few understand how poorly funded their police and fire pension plans really are.

Doug

This article touches on my Biggest Question. Do the pensions have the right to keep on death spiral taxing until they confiscate all the land form the rightful owners?

Did the Harvey pension effectively sue the taxpayers of Harvey? Does Harvey have the right to declare bankruptcy canceling contracts and get a fresh start? Death Spiral in Chicago will look like utter Mad Max movie compared to a little Harvey.

If the Harvey Pension wins and is upheld in the courts, all Illinois real estate is on death watch.

Paul

Death watch is right. This whole state will be one gigantic penal colony!! You aint gonna get nobody to move here let alone stay here!!!

Fred
Another problem that dwarfs Harvey’s pension crisis is the sheer number of school districts in that area that is driving up property taxes. There are approx 11 districts within a 40 by 40 block area. To name some Thornton(3)Harvey(2) bremen-hazel crest-south holland(2)- posen -prairie hills. Each with a superintendent making over $200K and numerous ass’t sups and so on. Consolidate into 1 District and save millions per year.. Another idea is to form a taxpayers union. Theft of equity by EXCESSIVE TAXATION should be illegal.(it probably is). Does Harvey have pension pickup? In Rockford we do. When I pay my crazy property taxes my obligation to the… Read more »
Rick
Zillow shows the median home price in Harvey as $57,300, over 300 homes are on the market there many for under 10k. At those prices it’s easy for an owner to just walk away when they get the new tax bill. Even if a billionaire wanted to buy the whole town right now why would they? The court has made themselves a “poison pill” to any developers wanting to go near Harvey. Why would anyone invest there knowing the courts, the state, the local government and the very constitution of Illinois are all lined up to financially shoot the investment? The very investors that the blight needs… Read more »
Doug

Rick, good question “Bankruptcy denied here, is justice denied” Harvey is going to complete death spiral it appears. If this is the iron clad legal template, most of Cook County and Chicago goes first, then the State has the right to destroy the wealth of the remaining.