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Monday Letters: Keep CPS custodians in pension system

On Sept. 14, Mayor Rahm Emanuel championed a massive sewer and water tax costing the average household $50 annually in the first year and $200 by the third year to support the Municipal Employees Annuity and Benefit Fund. While Chicagoans keep paying, the mayor keeps spending instead of offering cost saving.

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The pension fund requires additional sources of funding to survive, but new taxes should be the last resort not the first, and any new taxes should be mitigated by savings. The Chicago Public Schools is about to privatize more than 500 operating engineers who have cost effectively maintained CPS facilities since 1902. Not only will handing over public jobs to for-profit management companies inexplicably cost more than $200 million more annually, it impacts the pension fund by eliminating monthly contributions of 500 publicly employed CPS engineers supporting the fund.

The pension fund currently has two retirees for every one active member paying in, so a further reduction of paying members depletes the fund and leaves taxpayers on the hook for the balance.

The real costs of eliminating 500 contributing engineers is approximately $4 million annually lost to the pension fund. Forced early withdrawals and retirement benefit payouts caused by privatization will cost an additional $56 million more over the next several years. Before taxing Chicagoans to shore up the pension fund, the leak should be fixed first.

The removal of 500 paying members to the pension fund has not happened yet and makes little financial sense. If the mayor insists on spending an additional $200 million annually on for-profit management companies to oversee CPS engineers and employees that is the city’s prerogative though difficult to fathom given recent tax hikes.

Nonetheless, like privatized CPS custodians who are managed by for-profit companies and remain in the pension fund, CPS engineers too should remain public employees paying into the pension fund to mitigate costs to taxpayers.

William E. Iacullo,
president, IUOE Local 143

Move the air show

The only thing more moronic than the two-day glorification of the death-dealing machines of the air show itself is the moronic and thoughtless decision to inflict it on the same neighborhood, year after stultifying year, during five total days, during which it disrupts our lives and terrifies our pets.

Why does it always have to be inflicted on the same neighborhood? Why can’t it shift to the south lakefront or off Monroe Street Harbor downtown?

Donald Norsic, Lincoln Park


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