Rising Pension Costs Putting Pinch on Cities

Wednesday, 30 Oct 2013 02:25 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Growing pension costs are consuming general funds in cities across the country, leaving them with less money to spend on basic services such as garbage pickup and waterline maintenance.

Median pension spending among the nation's 250 largest cities went up to 10 percent of their general budgets in 2012 and continues to climb, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Cities are finding themselves with nowhere to turn as their populations age.

For example, in Springfield, Ill., the Journal notes, the city's annual payments to the state Public Employee Retire System has tripled to $19.8 million, which accounts for 25 percent of its operations budget.

The state capital is feeling the pinch, but so is the entire state of Illinois, which is holding a $100 billion unfunded pension debt, according to ABC Chicago affiliate WLS-TV.

The state's fiscal crisis has been described as the worst in the nation, and lawmakers are heading to Springfield next week to address the pension issue.

"Next week is an opportunity for the legislature to get a bill, pass a bill so I can sign it into law," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

The pension pinch also is being felt elsewhere, including bankrupt San Bernardino, Calif., which is being sued by the California Public Employees Retirement System over its $17 million in pension arrears, reports Reuters.

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