Mayors, firefighters unions battle over pension contributions

By WEEK Producer

April 30, 2014 Updated Apr 30, 2014 at 9:58 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis joined other mayors around the state in Springfield on Wednesday to once again make the case for pension reform.

The mayors' goal is to convince lawmakers to overhaul local pension systems for police and fire departments.

According to numbers released by Ardis on Wednesday, since 2003, the city of Peoria paid out an extra $8.6 million to help with under-performing pension investments.

Meanwhile, during that same time period, pension liability for the city has grown 10 times the rate of inflation.

"Legislators are providing caviar and champagne pensions and are using our city credit card to pay for the tab,” he said.

However, according to one local firefighters union, the increase in contribution by cities has nothing to do with an increase in pension benefits.

Peoria Firefighters Local 50 Union President Tony Ardis says the increase in payments is due to the recession.

"Seventy-seven percent of the reason is because of the market downturn. That's no different then 401ks. That's the reason for the decline,” said Tony Ardis.

He went on to say that mayors like Jim Ardis are just using pensions as a way to get their agendas passed.

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