Bloomington is somewhat breathing a sigh of relief after finance officials discovered a hole in reporting figures. (WJBC file photo)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - The pension situation for the City of Bloomington isn't as bad as they've thought.
Finance Director Patti-Lynn Silva has been with the city for a year and never understood how the city could have such a huge defecit while it continued to overpay its pension bills. The answer...is that it didn't. When talking with the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, Silva learned that the city had fully funded the reserve for retirees and survivors receiving pensions but wasn't counting that total in its figures.
"It changes things completely," Silva said. "This is how you expect to normally view a pension. We're very happy that this exposure is going to give a fuller picture."
The discovery allows the city to take a different angle toward resolving its remaining pension underfunding. The IMRF switches from the worst funded plan to the best on the city level.
Funding was actually at 74 percent and not the 32 percent that only included active members.
"As we look at our contribution policy that we've been working on for over six months, it can't be an apples to apples comparison," Silva said. "The reserve has never been disclosed because it wasn't a requirement."
She said that going forward the IMRF needs to disclose information about its retiree and survivor pensions in a more accurate way. The IMRF is the city's largest pension system and covers all employees expect police and fire. Bloomington still has an unfunded liability of $35 million but Silva pointed out that's a far cry from $93 million previously assumed.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.