Tim Baldermann, who collects checks from four government entities, is maneuvering to add another high paying government position to his resume by assuming the House seat being vacated by a retiring Margo McDermed (R-Mokena), sources tell the Will County Gazette.
At least one local taxpayer advocate is not to pleased about it.
“At this time of financial crisis in Illinois, it is more important than ever to elect officials who are willing to put the best interests of the area that they represent above their own interests, and not career politicians," Elizabeth Burghard, a self-described taxpayer activist from Frankfort ,told the Will County Gazette. “If you look at his [Baldermann’s] trajectory it’s all about gaining money and power. Enough is enough.”
Baldermann receives $71,000 a year in disability from Chicago Ridge as former police chief there, a salary of $206,000 as superintendent of the tiniest school district in the state, an $18,000 salary as mayor of New Lenox (which he says he donates to charity) and $15,000 as a Metra director.
The total package for superintendent of Union School District 81 includes $10,000 a year bonus, a car allowance, health insurance and the district picks up the cost of his pension contribution.
The amount was questioned last fall in a report by Fox 32 Chicago.
“Two-hundred-thousand a year to run a school district isn't extraordinary,” the story said. “But what makes Baldermann's salary stand out is the size of the district: one building, eleven teachers and about 100 students, with as few as 92 a couple years ago.”
As way of comparison, Burghard supplied some superintendent salaries from other districts: District 114 Superintendent makes $140,000 per year for 1,435 students; District 122 Superintendent makes $194,000 per year for 5,213 students; District 157C Superintendent makes $179,000 per year for 803 students; District 159 Superintendent makes $195,000 per year for 1,574 students; and District 161 Superintendent makes $167,000 per year for 3,000 students.
Baldermann, 53, initially collected $129,192 a year when he retired in 2010 from the Chicago Ridge police department with a bad back. He also received a lump sum of $101,000 in a workers’ compensation settlement.
In July 2014, the Chicago Ridge police pension board, citing an improper hike in salary on Baldermann’s last day of work, cut his pension from $129,192 a year to $71,091. He fought the change in court and lost.
The Chicago Sun-Times in 2015 questioned the severity of Baldermann’s back injury, citing a photo posted by a friend of Baldermann's that showed him paddling a boogie board in Australia.
"There's a big difference between riding in three feet of water and being a police officer," Balermann told the Chicago Sun-Times.
State lawmakers earn a base of $67,836 plus a 2.4% cost-of-living adjustment approved on June 6 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker when he signed the $40 billion budget.
But the cost of legislators’ pensions are where the taxpayers feel the most pain. In a 2015 analysis of lawmakers’ salaries, the Illinois Policy Institute wrote that on top of paying for state politicians’ salaries and benefits, Illinois taxpayers also pay for an annual bailout of GARS (General Assembly Retirement System). In 2017, taxpayers will contribute the equivalent of nearly $123,000 (including normal cost) for each participating Illinois politician just to keep GARS from going bankrupt.
“When that $123,000 cost is added to taxpayers’ annual burden, it turns out they are paying lawmakers 2.5 times – once for lawmakers’ salaries and then the equivalent of 1.5 times salary for lawmakers’ pensions,” the story said.
Ted Dabrowski, writer of the story with John Klingner, both of whom are now with Wirepoints, said the numbers still hold.
In 2007, Baldermann, in a bid for the congressional seat open with the retirement of Republican Jerry Weller, signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. The pledge commits signers to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses … and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."
He quit the race early in 2008 citing time constraints.