The pressure on big cities continues to build thanks to overzealous promises by politicians in places like Springfield, IL. The Wall Street Journal continues its in depth review of the ugly mess here.
It pays for veteran firefighters and police officers here to retire around the anniversary of their hiring date—but it’s costly for this city of 117,000.
Under current labor agreements, employees get a 5% bump in the pay periods around that date every year. Workers who retire during the short window get a perk: Their pensions are based on the temporarily boosted paycheck. The provision, which starts after two decades on the job, adds an average of $65,000 in lifetime payouts for each retiree who takes advantage.
Nationwide, pension costs are eating up more of city general funds, leaving less money to spend on day-to-day needs, such as garbage pickup or parks maintenance. The median spending on pensions among the country’s 250 largest cities rose to 10% of general budgets in 2012, up from 7.75% in 2007, according to data provided to The Wall Street Journal by Merritt Research Services LLC. A few cities weren’t available by August 2013, when Merritt collected the information.