Harvey fire pensioners paid $1.1M into fund, have collected $25M
City of Harvey taxpayers have paid out nearly $25 million in pension benefits to 42 retired firefighters who contributed a collective $1.14 million to the retirement fund.
That's according to an analysis of City of Harvey Fire Pension Fund records by Local Government Information Services (LGIS), which publishes South Cook News.
Of the 42 Harvey fire retirees, 24 contributed zero to their pension fund. Those retirees have received $17.4 million in benefits over their retirements.
The 18 who did contribute saved an average of $63,549 and have received an average of $408,102 in benefits.
The analysis comes on the heels of the city laying off half of its fire department after its pension funds intercepted state subsidies and diverted them to police and fire retirees, now prioritized over services to current taxpayers.
Last year, Harvey property taxpayers contributed $1.85 million to subsidize the city's fire pension fund, which earned just $584,000 in investment returns while paying out $2.12 million in benefits.
Who are the retirees?
LGIS researched the 42 current fire department retirees receiving these benefits, most of whom started work for Harvey in the 1960s and 1970s, when the town was growing, larger, and still had an industrial base.
Harvey's population rose from 29,071 in 1960 to 35,810 in 1980. It has since fallen to under 25,000.
The retirees were promised lifetime retirements, though most weren't asked to contribute to the fund at all, much less at a level required to keep such a promise.
Today, about half of the 42 Harvey Fire Department retirees live outside Illinois, according to LGIS analysis of public records. Five still live in Harvey.
Harvey taxpayers are sending checks to Arizona, Florida, South Carolina, Nevada, Michigan, Tennessee and nearby Indiana.
Nearly 60 percent have been retired more than 20 years.
Angelo Marquez joined the department in 1973, graduating two years later from South Suburban College in South Holland with an Emergency Medical Technician certification. He retired in 1994, at age 51, having paid zero into the firefighters' pension fund, Illinois Department of Insurance records show.
LGIS estimates Marquez, who property records show lives in the Discovery at Star Valley Community in Tucson, Arizona, has collected $688,702 from Harvey taxpayers in his 24-year retirement. By age 81, he'll have collected $1.265 million.
Steve Ciecierski worked 30 years for the Harvey Fire Department before retiring in 2013, at age 53.
A year later, he moved to Henderson, Nevada outside Las Vegas, paying $321,000 for a four-bedroom on a cul-de-sac a block from the 12th hole at Chimera Golf Club.
Ciecierski contributed $123,251 to the pension fund; after five years of retirement, he had already collected $303,114. Over a 30-year retirement, he will collect $3.62 million.
Charles W. Jackson, 66, worked 20 years for the department, rising to deputy fire chief.
He retired in 2003 from Harvey at age 51, started collecting his pension and took a new job, as fire chief of nearby Hazel Crest.
In 2017, Jackson earned $159,652 total-- $110,830 for his work in Hazel Crest, along with his $48,822 Harvey firefighters' pension, which grows 3 percent annually.
Jackson contributed $61,797 to the Harvey pension fund over two decades of work there; he has already collected $640,928 in "retirement" from Harvey taxpayers. And when he retires from Hazel Crest, he'll collect an even larger, second pension based on his current salary.
Following Jackson's example: fellow firefighter Joe W. Ellington, 71, who retired in 1996 after 20 years before moving to Country Club Hills, where he was named fire chief in 2010.
Last year, Ellington was sued by an ex-Country Club Hills firefighter who claimed her colleagues were sexually harassing her and regularly watching pornography at the station.
Ellington contributed $0 to the pension fund; he has collected $713,492, Department of Insurance records show.
Harvey's Firefighters' Pension Fund: By the numbers
Harvey has 42 retired firefighters collecting pension benefits, most of whom now live somewhere else.
They've collected nearly $25 million in benefits while contributing just over $1 million to the fund.
See how much each retired Harvey firefighter put away and has collected thus far in retirement.
|Name||Current Location||Total Saved||Total Collected|
|Paul F. Katity||Des Plaines||IL||$0||$1,024,461|
|William C. Bell||Harvey||IL||$0||$945,449|
|Robert J. Swiatek||N/A||$0||$939,790|
|Laverne C. Zorbaugh||Harvey||IL||$0||$928,600|
|David H. Hall||Knoxville||TN||$0||$923,915|
|Thomas F. Mayer||Orland Park||IL||0||$867,646|
|Gregory A. Degroot||Diamond||IL||$73,185||$859,977|
|Edgar P. Schaal||Naples||FL||$0||$803,345|
|Ronald H. Davison||Rotonda West||FL||$0||$800,450|
|John M. Kalata||Gobles||MI||$0||$796,506|
|Guy P. Ringo||Lansing||IL||$0||$783,655|
|Forrest F. Zeimis||Harvey||IL||$0||$769,218|
|David S. Riddle||Plainfield||IL||$68,875||$762,676|
|George F. Crossley, Jr.||N/A||$0||$740,300|
|Joe W. Ellington||Country Club Hills||IL||$0||$713,492|
|James T. Moore||N/A||$0||$688,363|
|Donald K. Schneiter||Colon||MI||$0||$662,230|
|Charles W. Jackson||Hazel Crest||IL||$61,797||$640,928|
|Rudolph J. Schneiter||Las Vegas||NV||$0||$627,132|
|Thomas S. Tornincasa||Crown Point||IN||$0||$625,463|
|Martin J. Carlasare||Frankfort||IL||$0||$595,640|
|Frank A. Hauenschild||Crete||IL||$74,116||$581,140|
|James A. Leo||Channahon||IL||$0||$568,108|
|Richard D. Climpson||Flossmoor||IL||$67,014||$538,645|
|Robert A. Wright||Surprise||AZ||$62,365||$538,561|
|Walter L. Fullilove||Harvey||IL||$0||$533,300|
|Richard B. Besse||Crown Point||IN||$26,885||$509,928|
|Harry J. Nolan||Newaygo||MI||$0||$502,890|
|John T. O'Leary, Jr.||New Lenox||IL||$0||$470,900|
|Clifford E. Cary||Harvey||IL||$66,260||$452,229|
|James E. Eaves||Mendon||MI||$0||$448,311|
|Dennis L. Arterburn||Boynton Beach||FL||$37,581||$430,033|
|Richard T. Furlong, Jr.||Chabanse||IL||$18,641||$313,837|
|Phillip D. Patterson||Merrillville||IN||$44,899||$307,747|
|Steven A. Ciecierski||Henderson||NV||$123,251||$303,114|
|John A. Pagorek||Cedar Lake||IN||$26,292||$301,416|
|Gary D. Stockwell||Seneca||SC||$113,955||$275,045|
|Mark D. Veldhuizen||Lansing||IL||$108,778||$210,884|
|Kevin J. Wright||St. John||IN||$112,121||$153,441|
|Christopher M. Brennan||Chicago||IL||$50,221||$134,961|
|Donald J. Mandelkow||Naperville||IL||$7,652||$31,277|
Source: Illinois Department of Insurance; Public records