Right to rein in pensions

May 5, 2014 

Eighty. That's the number of pages Belleville city attorneys Garrett Hoerner and Brian Flynn each submitted to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund to appeal their exclusion from the public pension fund.

That's a lot of pages, but then a lot is at stake. Bob Sprague, who preceded Hoerner as city attorney, draws a lifetime pension of $86,763 a year. Mike Flynn, Brian Flynn's dad and predecessor as assistant city attorney, draws $41,955 a year.

It's easy to see why Hoerner and Brian Flynn want a sweet deal of their own. But these pension deals aren't sweet for the taxpayers, and should be given out only when all the qualifications are met. While the attorneys would pay in 4.5 percent of their salaries, the city would pay 12.5 percent. Their participation would cost Belleville about $20,000 a year.

Both Hoerner and Flynn say they put in more than the minimum 1,000 hours a year for the city. They already qualify for pensions from their work for St. Clair County, which sets its minimum at 600 hours a year. That would mean Hoerner and Brian Flynn each spend at least 30.7 hours every week just between the city and the county. Whenever do they have time for their private law firms and the 13 other governmental units they represent?

Also, IMRF already ruled they are independent contractors, not city employees. We're not sure how they can dispute that.

Sprague and Mike Flynn probably shouldn't have gotten pensions as Belleville city attorneys either. With so much duplication, it is no wonder so many public entities struggle to fund pensions. IMRF has made the right call this time.

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