A pension plan overhaul approved by a 95-18 vote in the Illinois House last week to address underfunding won't be felt until next year, Wilmette fire and police chiefs told Patch.
"It goes in effect after January," Fire Chief Jim Dominick said. "Will it have an impact? I'm sure. But we don't expect it to hurt hiring. The changes were necessary to make the system sustainable."
Dominick said the department hires about two new employees a year.
The initiative would raise the retirement age for firefighters and police officers hired in 2011 to 55, up from 50.
"I am reluctant to predict the overall effect of the recent pension legislation on long-term police recruitment," said Police Chief Brian King.
"What I know now is that we are in the middle of a recruitment cycle that will bring 128 job applicants to the village to test for what is anticipated to be up to three open positions. We still offer a competitive wage and benefit package."
Suburban police and fire department pension funds are about $5 billion short, according to data analyzed by the Chicago Tribune from the Department of Insurance. After serving 30 years in the Wilmette Fire Department, a firefighter's pension is based on the average salary of their last eight years.
"We will still have a pension and it will still be good," Dominick said. "A lot of businesses in the private sector no longer have pensions."
King said benefit packages alone do not determine whether someone becomes involved in public service.
"The ability to offer a retirement package that is competitive to that offered in neighboring states definitely aids in the recruitment process," King said. "Ultimately, it is not any one factor that brings an applicant to our doors. A call to serve others is a powerful motivator and will likely remain one of our most effective recruitment tools. That does not negate the need for a competitive compensation package."