Paramedics Pensions in House Hands - @ JEMS.com


Paramedics Pensions in House Hands


 
 

Eric Peterson | | Tuesday, May 5, 2009


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Action pending in Springfield could have a positive effect on the retirement plans of three long-serving Barrington paramedics but could also cost Barrington taxpayers up to $1.8 million.

A bill that s passed the Senate and awaits a House vote would allow the Barrington Fire Department s three longest-serving members and possibly up to five others to retroactively boost their pensions.

The paramedics want their early years of service counted toward their state firefighter retirement fund pensions, rather than the lesser-paying Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund they paid into at the time. But they qualified for the more lucrative fund only after the village established a full-time department in 1995.

Senate passage several weeks ago came after a failed attempt by the village of Barrington to rally opposition to it, provoking a battle with Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District trustees, who support the measure.

The fire district covers a territory outside of Barrington and contracts with the Barrington Fire Department for service.

This battle is also being played out in court, as the paramedics also filed legal action against the village. They lost the most recent round in court but are still fighting on that front, too.

The employees affected Jim Feit, Char McLear and Chris Toussaint began working for Barrington as full-time paramedics in the 1970s and 80s.

Village Manager Denise Pieroni said Barrington intentionally retained a paid-on-call department as long as possible for its cost-effectiveness.

When the full-time department was created, paramedics stopped earning credit in Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and started contributing to the firefighter pension fund.

Five other paramedics who d accrued less than the minimum eight years to earn Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund benefits cashed in their contributions, at a loss, to move into the firefighter fund.

One of the village s concerns if the bill passes is that those paramedics, in addition to the three in question, could also seek a pension boost, Pieroni said. That s why the village says this could cost taxpayers as much as $1.8 million.

Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District Trustee Paul Heinze said the problem Feit, McLear and Toussaint faced was that they were strung along with promises that something would be worked out to roll their former contributions into the new fund without significant loss.

It hasn t.

The bill s Senate sponsor, Elgin Democrat Michael Noland, said the village of Barrington "completely left these people behind.

"Barrington sought a loophole," he said. "It was a selfish act early on, and there was no reason for it."

But Pieroni said these paramedics could have cashed in their earlier pension earnings in 1995 but chose not to. And she argues that, had the department not made the full-time switch in 1995 and the employees remained in the older pension fund, they d be worse off now.

Advocates for the paramedics disagree. Heinze said having their careers split between the two funds significantly reduces the benefits from either one alone. They believe they now have to delay retirement and work longer to boost their pensions, he said.

Supporters of the fire department personnel point to six Barrington police officers who recently took early retirement and will earn 70 percent to 75 percent of their salaries for the rest of their lives.

Feit, on the other hand, is a 33-year veteran but, were he to retire this month, would earn a pension worth only 13 percent of his salary. McLear, a 29-year veteran, would earn 5 percent of her salary and 29-year veteran Toussaint 4 percent of his, Heinze said.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Operations and Protcols

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Improving Survival from Cardiac Arrest Using ACD-CPR + ITD

Using active compression-decompression CPR with an ITD has been shown to improve 1-year survival from cardiac arrest by 33%.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire and EMS Crews Blame New Technology for Patient’s Death

Delayed response blamed on recurring dispatch problems.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Suspect Steals, Crashes Maryland Ambulance

One killed, others injured in Prince George’s County crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Fire Breaks Out in Chicago Hospital

Kitchen fire in Presence Resurrection Medical Center spreads to second floor.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Firefighter in Patient Death, Fired

Officials say termination is due to missing work.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee Trench Rescue

Worker pulled from Roane County worksite.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Time’s Ebola Firefighters

Doctors, nurses and others saluted for fighting virus.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Car Strikes Manhattan Pedestrians

Seven people hurt when car jumps curb.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >