Oak Lawn has continued its trend of under-funding pensions, with a nearly $4.5 million shortfall in the 2017 budget. The budget was passed as “balanced” despite the gaping holes in pension funding and revenue that has not yet been secured.
As reported yesterday, the Oak Lawn Board of Trustees on Tuesday passed the municipal budget for 2017. The budget was passed on a 5-1 vote, with Trustee Robert Streit (District 3) the lone dissenting vote.
The new budget projects a $2,288,756 deficit for the Police Pension Fund. There is also a $2,203,846 deficit for the Fire Pension Fund.
Mayor Sandra Bury, who campaigned against the previous administrations’ under-funding of pensions, did not weigh in on her administration’s failure to rein in the structural deficit. “Structural deficit” is a term developed in Europe and most recently used by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to describe not only the actual financial deficit in a budget, but also any long term debts such as pensions that may be owed in the future.
According to one Trustee, the Bury administration has kicked the can down the road every year, only adding to the structural deficit.
“The Mayor has had every chance to meet her campaign promise,” Trustee Streit said. “For four years, she has controlled the Board. For four years, she has kicked the can down the road. For four years, she has failed to address our growing pension deficits, jeopardizing the future of Oak Lawn.”
On Monday, Bury filed her nominating petitions, seeking a 2nd term in office. No challengers have yet filed, but Streit on Tuesday told reporters that he was circulating petitions, and would make an announcement soon.
Trustees Alex Olejniczak (District 2), Terry Vorderer (District 4), and Mike Carberry (District 6) all have their seat up for re-election as well. They each voted for the budget, including the structural deficits. At the time of the meeting, only Vorderer had filed for a new term in office.