Wheaton unfunded firefighters pension debt doubles
The pension fund for Wheaton firefighters is now underfunded by more than $10 million, a deficit that’s nearly doubled over the past 10 years, according to a report released by the Illinois Department of Insurance.
The Wheaton Firefighters Pension Fund had only $25 million in assets as of April 30, 2014 when it should have $35 million, the report says. In 2005, it held $11 million in assets but should have had $17 million.
The deficit equates to approximately $542 in firefighter pension debt per Wheaton household.
Wheaton’s 38 active firefighters haven’t been contributing enough to fully fund their pensions, the report shows. Each firefighter saved an average of just $701 per month in 2014, yet they’ll each receive an annuity upon retirement worth millions.
Total Wheaton firefighter compensation in 2014 averaged $118,869, including $24,864 in Wheaton taxpayer-funded retirement savings.
Wheaton’s Firefighter Pension Fund Board includes active firefighters John Cochran and Jason Skilondz, retired firefighter Rick Kammes, Wheaton investment adviser Charles Hartman, City of Wheaton Finance Director Robert Lehnhardt, and Wheaton insurance executive Michael Savegnago.
Cochran currently earns $134,343 in salary and taxpayer-funded retirement savings, and had contributed $126,734 to his pension as of the end of fiscal 2014, after 19 years and seven months of service.
Skilondz earns $116,321 and had contributed $55,469 over eight years of service.
Kammes retired from the Wheaton Fire Department in 2014 after 35 years and five months of service. He saved a total of $173,140 and is currently collecting $82,109 per year.
Kammes will collect more than $2.993 million over a 25 year retirement.
The Wheaton Fire Department includes 35 career firefighting personnel and 18 contract paramedics operating out of three fire stations.