Editorials

Saving taxpayers more by cutting public pensions, unifying schools

Retirement for aldermen? Here's what Belleville does.

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Funds is intended for city employees, but elected leaders also tack on the benefit. A state law stopped elected county leaders from claiming the benefit unless they proved they were working at least 600 hours a ye
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The Illinois Municipal Retirement Funds is intended for city employees, but elected leaders also tack on the benefit. A state law stopped elected county leaders from claiming the benefit unless they proved they were working at least 600 hours a ye

Taxpayers recently saw some small victories that we hope spread to other local governments.

First, Highland took its elected leaders out of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund rather than be forced to prove they were working the required 1,000 hours per year. Seven elected leaders could have participated, but only one was. Not much savings, but still a precedent and move in the right direction.

Second, O’Fallon’s high school and two grade school districts, along with the Shiloh grade school district, met with an expert from the state to learn more about school district consolidation. They are talking, with members of the public involved, and identifying the path to consolidation and sources to pay for the roughly $15,000 cost of studying it.

We’ve come a long way in political will, judging from O’Fallon High Superintendent Darcy Benway’s comments.

A few months back she said this: “If consolidation were the silver bullet, this board of education would be all about it.”

At the June 5 meeting she said this: “OTHS welcomes the opportunity to participate in further discussions that will explore consolidation options for our schools.”

Nice to hear.

So let’s spread these two examples of positive momentum.

Belleville has seven aldermen participating in the IMRF, costing taxpayers $8,505 for a perk that none of them should expect. They are Jane Pusa, Johnnie Anthony, Ken Kinsella, Phil Elmore, Kent Randle, Joseph Hazel and Mary Stiehl.

Freeburg has separate school districts for the elementary and high school. Belleville has 10 elementary school districts feeding into High School District 201, and the food and bus consolidations are showing the path to more merger and potentially consolidation.

These changes will be slight if we expect the momentum to be generated internally. Things move when there is an outside force that gives them a push, and motivated taxpayers are just the ones to get things rolling.

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