Mayor says pension costs number one financial issue for Peoria

By WEEK Producer

April 21, 2014 Updated Apr 21, 2014 at 11:13 PM CDT

CHICAGO, Ill. -- Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says pension costs are the number one financial issue facing the River City.

Ardis joined other Illinois mayors in Chicago on Monday asking state lawmakers to overhaul local pension systems for police and fire departments.

The mayors said pension problems are chocking local government budgets.

According to Ardis, for every dollar the city pays for wages, an additional 50 cents goes towards firefighters’ pensions and 41 cents go towards police officers pensions.

That is up significantly from just six years ago and part of that money isn't even going to the retirees.

"In Peoria, the police and fire pension funds paid out nearly $1 million, or more than 4-perent of the actual benefits paid, just for managing their funds,” Ardis said.

The mayors said if something isn't done, some communities will have to raise property taxes or cut services to cover pension obligations.

Pension programs are created by state law, so only legislators can approve changes.

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