Perhaps ending a dispute that dates back more than a decade,
an Illinois appeals court has ordered the city of Harvey to pay more than $7
million to its police pension fund.
First District Appellate Justice Sheldon A. Harris wrote the
opinion filed Jan. 23; Justices John B. Simon and Mary L. Mikva concurred.
At issue in the appeal was a Cook County Circuit Court
decision enforcing the terms of a February 2008 settlement regarding a 2006
lawsuit the Harvey Police Pension Fund filed against the city alleging
violations of state pension law.
As part of the settlement, the city had agreed to pay
$551,079 in owed contributions to the pension fund at a rate of $50,000 per
month, paid from property taxes. It also agreed, beginning in fiscal 2007, to
levy an annual property tax directed toward the pension fund. Both parties
agreed the circuit court would retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement
deal until the contributions were repaid.
In December 2010, pension fund trustees filed a motion
alleging the city wasn’t meeting its obligations. The city, admitting it owed
money but disputing the amount, filed for summary judgment. It argued the court
had no jurisdiction over the tax collection beginning in fiscal 2007. The court
rejected the city’s argument and also found it failed to collect taxes
beginning in 2006, though the amount that should have been collected was
The parties hired Foster & Foster, an actuarial firm, which
determined the amount the city should have collected and remitted, as well as
what should be levied through fiscal 2014. In response the city again moved for
summary judgment, arguing it owed only the amount listed for 2014. Circuit Court
Judge Kathleen M. Pantle rejected that argument and on Sept. 29, 2015, entered
judgment for the pension fund in the amount of $7.33 million, as well as $45,569
in legal fees.
The city appealed that judgment, again arguing the court
lacked the authority to enforce back taxes, questioning the method for
calculating the damages and challenging the legal fees award.
Harris wrote the settlement language agreement was clear in
the power it granted the circuit court to enforce up until the initial $551,079
was repaid, as well as $6,404 in legal fees the city agreed to pay. He further
said the city admitted both to Pantle and the appellate justices it had not
fully repaid that amount when the pension fund filed the 2010 motion for court
Moving to the issue of how the court calculated the $7.33
million award, the pension fund argued the city could not raise the issue
before the appellate panel because it did not do so before the circuit court.
The justices said the city’s motion for summary judgment argued it “should only
‘contribute the recommended amount from the most recent actuarial valuation,
not the sum total of all prior actuarial valuations.’
“Put a different way, the city argued to the circuit court
they should pay only the amount in the Franken Report listed for the 2013-2014
fiscal year instead of the combined sum,” the justices wrote. “Since this
argument is different than the argument put forth on appeal, the city has
waived consideration of this argument, and we will not consider it.”
With respect to dispute over awarding of legal fees, the
justices again ruled against the city because they had already upheld the
circuit court’s jurisdictional authority.
According to Cook County court records, the police pension
fund was represented by the firm of Moirano Gorman Kenny LLC, of Chicago.
The city of Harvey was represented by Quintairos, Prieto,
Wood & Boyer P.A., of Chicago.