Vernon Hills Review

Residents want pension reform

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Vernon Hills residents voted overwhelmingly in support of an advisory referendum on Tuesday's ballot on the issue of statewide police and fire pension reform.

Nearly 85 percent of Vernon Hills voters, or 5,580, voted in favor of the referendum question and only 15 percent or 942 of those casting ballots voted against it, according to unofficial election results.

The referendum question asked voters: "Shall the Illinois General Assembly and Governor take immediate steps to implement meaningful public safety pension reform which will relieve the extensive burden on local taxpayers?"

Village officials say the referendum is intended to bring public attention to the need for meaningful reform of police and fire pensions, which they say have escalated in recent years and are a placing a growing burden on local budgets. They hope a strong show of public support will convince lawmakers to make necessary pension reforms during the upcoming fall veto session.

Vernon Hills has joined the Pension Fairness for Illinois Communities Coalition, a group of municipalities across the state which is pushing for legislation action to address the pension crisis. While the General Assembly took action this spring to reform pension benefits for most other future state government employees, those changes did not apply to police officers, firefighters or county sheriff's deputies.

In February, Lake Forest voters overwhelmingly supported a similar pension reform advisory referendum, which received 90 percent support.