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District seeks to clarify information listed on property tax bills
In response to a Cook County Debt Disclosure Ordinance, Glenbrook High School District 225 was required to disclose specific annual financial information to the Office of the Cook County Treasurer that was included on the March installment of local property tax bills.
This information was pulled from the District’s annual audited financial reports and included: total debts and liabilities, gross operating budget, total pension liability, total unfunded pension liability and pension funded ratio.
(A breakdown of the source data for each of these categories listed on the property tax bills can be found by clicking here.)
During the February 11 Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Business Hillarie Siena stressed the importance of providing additional information about these categories, specifically when looking at pension liability.
“The information presented on the tax bills does not reflect data relative to the state-funded retirement system known as TRS (Teachers Retirement System of Illinois),” Siena said. “We understand recent concerns regarding the public pension system in Illinois and want to clarify that the information listed on the property tax bills is not related to TRS.”
Employees of District 225 participate in one of two pension systems: TRS and IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund). Non-certificated support personnel are members of IMRF. IMRF is locally funded by Glenbrook High School District 225, which levies taxes for this purpose, and through contributions from District 225 employees. Certified personnel are members of TRS, which unlike IMRF, is funded through contributions from District 225 employees and the State of Illinois.
The information on the tax bills relative to pension liability applies to IMRF and all post-employment benefits, mainly insurance. The District’s total pension liability is listed at $44,106,803 and the total unfunded pension liability at $20,473,982.
However, both of these figures include $13,321,459 attributed to other post-employment benefits, which are not related to pension. The portion actually attributable to total IMRF pension liability is $30,785,344 and to total unfunded IMRF liability is $7,152,523.
Siena explained total pension liability reflects the amount District 225 would have to pay out in IMRF pension and other post-employment benefits if each covered employee as of June 30, 2012 were to retire now. Unfunded pension liability refers to the amount the district would theoretically be short if this occurred.
Much of the shortfall in total unfunded pension liability is due to investment losses suffered by IMRF due to the economic downturn. Recovery of these losses is expected over time through increases to the District’s employer rate and returns on investments.
“The District fully supports transparency for our tax payers through full disclosure of financial information. However, it is equally as important to provide context to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation,” Siena said.
Additional information about the District’s financials, including the Annual Financial Report and the audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report are available at http://www.glenbrook225.org/district/District-Departments/Business-Operations/Financial-Info. Both are posted annually for public review.