* Economic crisis hits IMRF, tax increases might be needed
Illinois taxpayers may soon be called on to bail out what is arguably the best-funded public pension plan in the state thanks to $3.6 billion in fund losses caused by the spiraling economy.
The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund covers about 177,000 active employees of local governments and about 85,000 retirees. The good news for them is their retirement benefits are guaranteed no matter what the economy does.
* If Pontiac prison closes, what happens to state’s death row?
Illinois’ most notorious criminals will soon have a new home if state prison officials carry out their plan to close Pontiac Correctional Center.
Fifteen inmates on Illinois’ death row will be shipped west to the state’s mostly unused prison in Thomson in January, marking the first time the state’s condemned unit has not been in Pontiac in decades.
The prison in Thomson, which was built in 2002 but never fully opened because of budget constraints, is ready to accept the prisoners, said Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Januari Smith.
* Prison to become max security facility
In a surprise move, the small Lawrence County town of Sumner is poised to become home to the state’s newest maximum-security prison.
* Students: U of I brass should freeze pay
* Budget Watchdog: CTA Fare Hike ‘Necessary and Appropriate’
A budget watchdog group has come out in support of the Chicago Transit Authority’s proposed fare hike. The Civic Federation says the 25-50-cent increases are necessary to offset fuel costs, and to pay for free rides mandated by the state.
* TIF districts ripped as ‘government gone wild’
Nearly $900 million in property tax money was siphoned off into Cook County tax increment finance districts in 2007 — 11.5 percent more revenue than the previous year, according to a report produced by Cook County Clerk David Orr.
If TIF funds were collected as a separate taxing district, it would take in the second largest amount of property tax revenue in the county after the Chicago Public Schools, which gets $1.9 billion a year.
* Study says special taxing districts costing Chicago coffers $555 million
Chicago property tax revenue diverted from schools, parks, day-to-day city expenses and other local government operations to city development projects increased by about $55 million in 2007 to $555 million, an 11 percent jump from the previous year, according to a report released today by Cook County Clerk David Orr.
Some critics of tax increment finance districts, known as TIFs, say they are partly responsible for the city’s current budget shortfall, pegged at $469 million. To address the gap, Mayor Richard Daley has proposed layoffs and increased fees and taxes for 2009.
* Hump daze: Speed bumps ripped out after 4 months for repaving
Pat Burke said he feels like his tax dollars are being “flushed down the toilet.”
How else to explain the city’s decision to install speed humps in June on a two-block stretch of North Paulina, only to tear them out this month, now that the street is being resurfaced?
* Motorola to switch to Google’s Android system, as layoffs loom
Motorola is reportedly preparing a new round of layoffs and changing its cell-phone software platform to Google Inc.’s Android operating system for its mid-tier and multimedia phones, according to unnamed sources in Wednesday’s editions of the Wall Street Journal.
The Schaumburg-based cell-phone giant has laid off 10,000 since early 2007.