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Cook County Board approves borrowing to cover employee pension costs

Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

The Cook County Board today approved a short-term borrowing plan to cover $104 million its owes to the employee pension fund.

If accepted by the pension board, the county would pay $108 million --- the amount it owed the pension fund, plus 2.75 percent interest, said Laura Lechowicz Felicione, the county attorney who has been negotiating with the pension board. The original pension payment was due in December 2008.

The county will use $30.4 million it has on hand and take and take out a three-year loan for the rest of the payment. Once paid off in 2013, Felicione said the county will have paid about $112 million to cover the original debt of $104 million, meaning the cost for the late payment is about $8 million.

Board President Todd Stroger initially wanted to take out a longer term loan to pay the debt, but that would have cost the county more money in the end. Stroger did not attend today's meeting, his first since losing his re-election bid in the Democratic primary a week ago. His staff said he was slowed by snow coming back from a weekend trip to New Orleans.

“I want to commend you for bring this to a close and having a way to pay this off in a very short period of time,” Commissioner Forrest Claypool, D-Chicago, said to Felicione. “The original plan to fund a ongoing year-to-year obligation with long-term debt was absolutely irresponsible. I think this is a reasonable approach.”


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