Trustees for the Alton Firefighters Pension Fund (AFPF) are suing the city of Alton claiming the fund is underfunded by more than $31 million.

A lawsuit filed in Madison County Circuit Court on Oct. 29 claims Alton has continuously from 2000 until the present failed to levy taxes to sufficiently fund the AFPF's annual actuarial requirements.

The fund's current assets, as of March 31, are $17,588,478, the complaint states.

"(The) AFPF is underfunded by 63.87% or, stated another way, AFPF is only funded to the extent of 36.13%," the complaint states.

Plaintiffs include Robert Franke, Stephanie Elliott, Cynthia Roth, Gary Heininger and Robert Gentry. They are asking for a judgment of close to $6 million.

They claim that the city is bound to fund the pension which it adopted through levying a property tax to meet the fund's annual actuarial requirement.

Defendants include the city and Mayor Donald E. Sandidge, and aldermen James Ryan, Phil Hanrahan, Joe Maher, Jr., Alice Martin, Charles Brake, Gary L. Fleming and David L. Boulds.

The suit claims monetary relief is sought only against the city, however, the mayor and aldermen are joined as "necessary parties with respect to the declaratory relief sought in this litigation."

"To date, the City of Alton and its City Council have not indicated any intention to levy a accordance with the Division of Insurance's numbers...," the complaint states.

"Furthermore, the City has not indicated an intention to collect taxes in that amount pursuant to a levy, or to fund that amount to AFPF, but rather, these elected officials, on behalf of the City of Alton, have stated an intent to continue their prior course of action of severely underfunding AFPF, in violation of State law, and contrary to the actuarial calculations."

The trustees claim they have been unable to invest the city's unpaid sums. The suit seeks the following amounts, plus interest, by year:

2000: $448,537.99
2001: $565,440.90
2002: $729,105.68
2003: $991,664.28
2004: $921,360.17
2005: $1,023,941.36
2006: $1,244,580.45

The trustees also seek an injunction forcing the city to levy property tax to fund the AFPF in accordance with state statute.

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