ROCK ISLAND — Four retired school district superintendents are collecting the highest public pensions in Rock Island County, according to Taxpayers United, a Chicago nonprofit taxpayer advocacy group.
In its 13th annual Illinois pension report, Taxpayers United compiled pension data on the top 200 pensions in three employee groups: Rock Island County and the city of Rock Island; Rock Island-Milan, Moline-Coal Valley and East Moline public schools; and Black Hawk College.
Former Moline-Coal Valley Superintendent Calvin Lee is drawing an annual pension of $222,655; Rock Island's Richard Loy collects $172,197; East Moline's Garry Rudish collects $171,944; and Rock Island's David Markward collects $167,913.
"Pensions are legalized theft," Taxpayers United president Jim Tobin said during a Monday press conference. "The entire local and statewide pension system in Illinois is unsustainable. The top 200 are all pension millionaires and some are multi-millionaires.
"The IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund), which gives lavish, gold-plated pension benefits to retired municipal employees, is funded by property taxes."
Tobin said $903 million in property taxes have gone toward IMRF in Illinois. He noted the county's property tax rate of 2.56 percent and the recent property tax increase of 11.9 percent on the county's portion of taxes.
Among county employees, former Rock Island County States Attorney Marshall Douglas is the highest with an annual pension of $155,673. Since his retirement at the age of 65, Marshall has collected $1.9 million from the county.
According to the report, former Rock Island City Manager John Phillips brings in $141,519 annually and has collected $966,855 in pension payments since his retirement in 2010.
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Rounding out the top three of county employees is former Rock Island County Sheriff Michael Huff, who earns an annual pension of $107,691 and has collected $812,295 to date.
Former Rock Island County Board Chairman James Bohnsack collects the fifth-highest pension in the county and municipal group with $91,762; and former County Board Chairman Philip Banaszek brings in $88,489 annually. County board members voted in 2016 to stop collecting pensions and health benefits.
In April, the county had to borrow from its working cash fund to make up a $500,000 shortfall in its pension fund. County Administrator Jim Snider said Monday the county's general fund has a budget of $26 million and has only $1 million in reserves.
According to the report from Taxpayers United, current Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos collects an annual pension of $70,868 from his former position as captain with the department.
"(Bustos) has already received $297,157 that's he's stolen from the taxpayers," Tobin said. "I'm opposed to double-dipping. If someone does it in the private sector, I don't have a problem with it because it doesn't raise my taxes. This is just another example of how people scam the system and rip off taxpayers. I've never heard of anyone in local government refusing their pension."
Topping the Black Hawk College group is former president Bettie Truitt, who collects an annual pension of $133,568. Truitt retired in 2017 at the age of 52. If Truitt lives to be 85, her estimated payout will be $7.1 million.
Second on the Black Hawk College list is former professor and board member Dorothy Beck, who collects $126,892 annually, followed by former professor Linda Lindaman, who collects $119,581 annually.