The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) includes a table called “Schedule of Funding Progress” for each pension fund that the city is responsible for. An actuary determines the fund assets and liability, and from these are calculated the percentage that the fund is funded as well as the unfunded liability in dollars. I’ve pulled numbers from three or so CAFRs to bring you 12 years’ worth* of these calculations in graphic form.

Yes, in the old days the IMRF pension used to be funded at 100%-plus but now is funded at less than 55%. Fire has never been funded as well as the others and in 2011 was at 45%, which I’ve read recently is about the same overall level that the State of Illinois funds the pensions for state employees.

In the first several years of the new century, DeKalb was growing like crazy so much of the growth in pension liabilities would have come from the city’s new hires. An increasingly accelerated rate of retirements, generous compensation agreements, annual pension COLAs and investment losses account for the rest.

Below, the total growth in liabilities for all three pensions for this period is shown.

The period of 1999-2011 saw growth in pension liabilities of 446%.


*IMRF numbers are by calendar year, while the other two pension reports follow the fiscal year. I “pushed” IMRF numbers ahead one year, for example 1998 IMRF numbers appear in FY1999. It’s equally accurate to the way the city does it since each calendar year contains either one or the other half of the fiscal year, capiche? And it ensured there was data from all pension funds for each of the years I wanted to show in the charts.