Dan Haley’s viewpoint regarding firefighter pensions is a bit distorted. [Tiptoeing around those unsustainable pensions, News, June 25]

He states “Can we afford to have cops and firefighters retire after 20 years of service? These people are 50. They could live on pensions for twice as long as they worked. Is it rational?”

The reality is the vast majority of firefighters in
Oak Park work for 26 years or more and the retirement age of these firefighters is usually 55 or higher. It would be great to think that firefighters live twice as long as they work. The reality is that firefighters on average have a life expectancy of 10 years less than the average individual, due to the numerous exposures to toxins, stress and other negative health factors associated with the job.

Mr. Haley would be better served if he would look at the reasons that pension funding is where it is in
Oak Park. The village’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports show that from 2000 to 2006, the Village of Oak Park underfunded their annual required contributions to the Firefighter’s Pension Fund by an average of 9.7 percent a year or 58.19 percent for the six years. During this time, the active firefighters contributed their required portions (currently 9.455 percent of their pay). The fund itself returned about a 7- to 8-percent return on its investments during the same period.

The statutes set forth by our state legislature rule the pension system. A process is set up that calls for all interested parties, in particular the Associated Firefighters of Illinois and the Illinois Municipal League, to negotiate any changes in the pension. These changes are then sent to the legislature for consideration. A recent example of this process is House Bill 5088, which further defines the structure and accountability in the firefighters pension, with the intent to make the funds better managed and increase their performance.

Stephen Rose

For the OP Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 95

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