Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 90 CH 9756. The Honorable Dorothy Kirie Kinnaird, Judge, Presiding.
Released for Publication August 5, 1997.
The Honorable Justice Hourihane delivered the opinion of the court. Hoffman and South, J.j., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hourihane
JUSTICE HOURIHANE delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiffs, current or former members of the Chicago police and fire departments, who are or will be entitled to receive retirement benefits, brought an action against the City of Chicago (City), various city officials, the trustees of the Policemen's and Firemen's Annuity and Benefit Funds (hereafter Policemen's and Firemen's Pension Funds or the Funds), and the Retirement Boards of the Funds (hereafter pension boards or boards), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and damages. The gravamen of plaintiffs' complaint is that the City failed to report to the pension boards the full amount of "salary" paid to plaintiffs, contrary to the provisions of Articles 5 and 6 of the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq. (West 1994 and Supp. 1995)), thereby decreasing plaintiffs' total vested pension benefits. Plaintiffs also alleged that defendants' practice of excluding certain items of compensation from "salary" deprived plaintiffs of their due process rights in violation of federal civil rights law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1988).
The circuit court dismissed all of plaintiffs' claims with prejudice either on the pleadings, pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1994)), or pursuant to the provisions of section 2-619 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 1994). Plaintiffs appeal. 155 Ill. 2d R. 301. The principal issue on review is whether the circuit court properly construed the Pension Code to exclude certain items of compensation from "salary" for purposes of calculating pension contributions and benefits. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.
As a preliminary matter, the Funds argue that judicial review of certain counts of the complaint is barred because plaintiffs ran afoul of the Administrative Review Law. 735 ILCS 5/3-101 et seq. (West 1994). We decline to entertain the Funds' argument as it finds no support in the record before this court.
As to the principal issue on appeal, plaintiff police officers contend that the following items of compensation, negotiated under one or more collective bargaining agreements, fall within the definition of "salary" as used in Article 5 of the Pension Code: duty availability allowance, uniform allowance, overtime pay, holiday pay, optional pay for personal days, pay for baby furlough days, final vacation pay, pay for work out of grade, and supplemental pay for sergeants, lieutenants and captains. Plaintiffs also claim that a one-time lump sum payment of $1,250 made during 1989 pursuant to an arbitration award also constitutes "salary".
Plaintiff firefighters contend that the following items of compensation fall within the definition of "salary" under Article 6 of the Pension Code: shift reduction allowance, clothing allowance, overtime pay, holiday pay, final vacation pay, pay received for acting out of classification, pay received for attending recertification training seminars during off-duty hours, pay for unused administrative days, training instructor incentive pay, and a $1,250 one-time lump sum payment made during 1988. All of these pay provisions arise under the firefighters' collective bargaining agreements.
The circuit court concluded that none of the disputed compensation items constitute "salary" for purposes of the Pension Code. The court noted that there was no evidence that the legislature intended that the additional benefits firefighters and police officers receive under their labor contracts should be included in salary, and that "salary" means "the base salary in the budget line item as appropriated in the municipality's appropriation ordinance." Plaintiffs argue that the language of the Pension Code, the Illinois Constitution, and caselaw construing the Pension Code require the opposite conclusion, and that pension rights cannot be decided based on how the City and the unions label a pay provision.
We agree with defendants that the circuit court correctly construed the Pension Code. The primary object of statutory construction is to give effect to the true intent of the legislature. Kraft, Inc. v. Edgar, 138 Ill. 2d 178, 189, 561 N.E.2d 656, 149 Ill. Dec. 286 (1995). Such inquiry necessarily begins with the language employed in the statute, as this is the best evidence of the legislature's intent. Kraft, 138 Ill. 2d at 189. Where a statute defines its own terms, those terms will be construed in accordance with the statutory definitions. Puss N Boots, Inc. v. Mayor's License Comm'n of the City of Chicago, 232 Ill. App. 3d 984, 987, 597 N.E.2d 650, 173 Ill. Dec. 676 (1992). Absent such definitions, the words used in a statute will be given their plain and ordinary meanings. Eagan v. Chicago Transit Authority, 158 Ill. 2d 527, 531-32, 634 N.E.2d 1093, 199 Ill. Dec. 739 (1994). In ascertaining the plain and ordinary meaning of words, courts have used the dictionary as a resource. People ex rel. Daley v. Datacom Systems Corp., 146 Ill. 2d 1, 15, 585 N.E.2d 51, 165 Ill. Dec. 655 (1992). We turn first to the provisions of Article 5 of the Pension Code which governs policemen's annuity and benefit funds.
Policemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund
Section 5-114 of the Pension Code defines a police officer's "salary" as follows:
"(a) Annual salary, provided that $2,600 shall be the maximum amount of salary to be considered for any purpose under this Act prior to July 1, 1927.
(b) Annual salary, provided that $3,000 shall be the maximum amount of salary to be considered for any purpose under this Act from July 1, 1927 to July 1, 1931.
(c) Annual salary, provided that the annual salary shall be considered for age and service annuity, minimum annuity and disability benefits and $3,000 shall be the maximum amount of salary to be considered for prior service annuity, widow's annuity, widow's prior service annuity and child's annuity from July 1, 1931 to July 1, 1933.
(d) Beginning July 1, 1933, annual salary of a policeman appropriated for members of his rank or grade in the city's annual budget or ...