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State

Ill. village seeks to privatize fire department

CHICAGO – An Illinois mayor wants to shift his village's fire department to a private company as a cost-saving measure to pay for police and firefighter pension contributions.

North Riverside Mayor Hubert Hermanek says the village will pitch the rare proposal during a Department of Insurance hearing on Thursday. He says the move could save $700,000 annually by reducing pension and overtime costs.

The village was called to the Chicago hearing for not following municipal pension laws. Records obtained by The Associated Press show North Riverside officials didn't put any money into two pension funds in at least two of the last five years.

Hermanek blames the problems on decreased tax revenue from a local shopping mall. Firefighter union officials say the village's plan isn't legal and would put residents at risk.

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