Chicago Pension Fund Surplus is Diminishing

Chicago Pension Fund Surplus is Diminishing

The firemen’s pension fund of Chicago is diminishing. The expenses are approximately $80,000 more than its income. This balance is ten times the deficit of five years ago, and it is figured the exhaustion of the fund is only a question of time, less than two years, unless the system of financing is improved or pensions are materially reduced. There are some firemen on the pension list. The solvency of the fund, however, is of most concern to the widows and orphans of the firemen who lost their lives or became disabled in service. The balance in the fund increased each year from 1900 to 1910, when it reached the high-water mark of $320,000. Since that time it has been going down. It dropped to $321,000 on Jan. 1, 1911, to $295,000 in 1912, to $257,000 in 1913 and to $202,000 in 1914. At the end of this year it is estimated that the balance will be $121,000. At this rate the surplus will be wiped out in less than eighteen months. Receipts are insufficient to pay pensions. It has been estimated that beneficiaries of the fund this year will be paid $313,000. The income is estimated at $80,000 less. In 1910 it was $8,000 less than the total of the pensions paid out, the next year $25,000, in 1912 $38,000, and last year $55,000. A new method of saving the fund is under consideration by the trustees. “The suggestion has been made,” said Francis’ D. Connery, city clerk and secretary of the board, “that the funds should receive the entire amount collected from foreign insurance companies doing business in Chicago. It now receives 50 per cent, of that amount, and the revenue front this source last year was $111,704. If all of it went to the fund the situation would be met temporarily, and a complete plan on a better basis could be worked out later.” The danger that the fund would be exhausted was pointed out last year, when the legislature amended the pension act by abbreviating to twenty years the period of service required for eligibility to receive a pension. It formerly was twenty-two years. City Controller Traeger, president of the board of trustees, also has suggested that the city might turn over 2 per cent, instead of the 1 per cent, of all license fees now contributed for the benefit of the fund.

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