McHenry County Board Votes To End Pensions For Part-Time Elected County Board Members

The trend is clear. Taxpayer-funded pensions should not be a special privilege given to part-time county board members. Public service alone is a privilege.

For the DuPage County taxpayer, the pension burden for part-time elected officials is much greater than surrounding counties. Our board members’ salaries are by far the highest of the collar counties. Currently, our members receive $50,079 annually, about to increase to $51,081. A vested pension would one day give participants over $40,000 per year for life. – Liz Chaplin

The Northwest Herald Reports the Following:

By KEVIN P. CRAVER

 

WOODSTOCK – Without a word of comment, all 24 members of the McHenry County Board voted to end participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund for themselves and those elected after them.

The unanimous vote, part of the routine consent agenda, eliminates IMRF eligibility effective Dec. 1, with the new county fiscal year and the seating of the new board after the Nov. 8 election. The resolution not only eliminates pension eligibility for new members, but also ends the accumulation of credit for pensions for existing members, including the elected chairman.

Prodded by a still-ongoing investigation by the IMRF into whether County Board members are working the required 1,000 hours a year to qualify for pensions, Tuesday’s vote comes as a bill eliminating IMRF for all county boards statewide is headed for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.

County Board member Andrew Gasser, who rejected taking an IMRF pension and publicly spoke out in favor of ending them for board members, lauded the approval of the resolution.

“It’s a great thing that this happened,” said Gasser, R-Fox River Grove. “There are many of us on this County Board who have quietly tried to remove the politician pension from the County Board, and this is the culmination of not just removing new [members], but removing all pensions from the County Board except from those who are vested.”

The IMRF investigation was prompted earlier this year by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, who asked the fund to look into whether County Board members, all but a handful of whom had signed up to receive the pension, were working the required hours. He also authored the amended Senate bill that seeks to strip county board pensions statewide.

You can read the full story here.

You can read more on my efforts to end pensions for DuPage County Board members here ,    here and here .

Letter To The Editor – DuPage County Must End Pension Perk

Recently, the Illinois Assembly unanimously passed Senate Bill 2701 that would prohibit newly-elected county board members from receiving pensions through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). The bill awaits the Governor’s signature.
This legislation has prompted the McHenry County Board to withdraw from IMRF citing challenges of accounting for hours spent on County business. Twenty-one county boards in Illinois have already opted out of the IMRF, including Winnebago, Peoria, Saline, Grundy and Rock Island.

The trend is clear. Taxpayer-funded pensions should not be a special privilege given to part-time county board members. Public service alone is a privilege.

For the DuPage County taxpayer, the pension burden for part-time elected officials is much greater than surrounding counties. Our Board members’ salaries are by far the highest of the collar counties. Currently, our members receive $50,079 annually, about to increase to $51,081. A vested pension would one day give participants over $40,000 per year for life.

During a recent Finance Committee meeting, I expressed my surprise to learn that the IMRF conducted an audit of the DuPage County Board last summer. Only Board members that participate in the IMRF were notified. All Board members, including myself, should have been included. By not informing all of us, we lost an opportunity to at least discuss the matter.

This is why on May 31st, I sent a resolution that mirrors the McHenry resolution to members of our Board who do not participate in IMRF and those who have stated they do not support this pension. If five Board members will join me, the resolution will be placed on the next Finance Committee agenda. The proposed resolution eliminates current as well as future Board members from participating in the IMRF.

I hope my fellow Board members will do the right thing for DuPage taxpayers.

Liz Chaplin
DuPage County Board, District 2

SURPRISE

During the May 10, 2016 Finance Committee meeting, I expressed my surprise to learn that in August of 2015 the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund conducted an audit of the DuPage County Board. Only board members who participate in the IMRF were notified. All board members, including myself, should have been included. By not informing all of us, we lost an opportunity to at least discuss the matter of whether or not DuPage County should continue in the program. I question the ethics and legality of such an audit. The significance of this is huge. Below I explain why.

Twenty-one county boards in Illinois have already opted out of the IMRF, including Winnebago, Peoria, Saline, Grundy and Rock Island.

For the DuPage County taxpayer, the pension burden for part-time elected officials is much greater than surrounding counties. Our Board members’ salaries are by far the highest of the collar counties. Currently, our members receive $50,079 annually, which is about to increase to $51,081. A vested pension would one day give participants over $40,000 per year for life.

In conversations I have had with Louis Kosiba, Executive Director of the IMRF, the only requirement for county board members to qualify for the IMRF is that a majority of the board members must sign IMRF form 6.93 certifying that they work 1,000 hours per year.

DuPage County had the opportunity to opt out of the IMRF last August but instead chose to quietly and behind the scenes keep their pensions.

Currently only 8 out of the 18 board members participate in the IMRF. The participating board members signing the forms alone would not be sufficient to allow them to continue participation in the IMRF. Wanting to keep their pensions, the participating board members selectively sought out 2 non participating board members that would sign the form and allow the 8 board members to continue in the IMRF.

Considering what took place in August of 2015 you can imagine how surprised I was to learn that the same board members who worked to keep their pensions less than a year ago are now working to eliminate themselves from the program. In a Daily Herald article “DuPage County Board member James Healy says that the DuPage County Board started talking about the possibility of the board leaving IMRF before Chaplin drafted her resolution.”

In fact, “Healy said he believes most members of the 18-person board are open to the idea.”

 

You can read the full Daily Herald article here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PUSH MADE TO END PENSIONS FOR DUPAGE COUNTY BOARD

The Daily Herald reports the following:

Robert Sanchez

A DuPage County Board member is calling on the panel to withdraw from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund ahead of a proposed state law that would end pensions for some elected positions.

State Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, has proposed legislation that would prevent new county board members from being eligible for a public pension.

“I don’t think anyone who works part-time hours should get a full-time pension,” said Franks, who is now running for McHenry County Board chairman. “So my goal is to get rid of all that.”

The proposal already has been approved in Springfield by the House and Senate. Franks says he’s “confident” the governor will sign it into law.

If the measure becomes law, it will require county board members already enrolled in IMRF to prove they’re working a certain number of hours on county-related business. In the case of DuPage board members, they’re supposed to be working at least 1,000 hours a year.

“I’m going to ask IMRF to start removing people who aren’t able to prove that they’ve made their hours,” Franks said.

It’s yet to be determined how county board members would document that they’re meeting the hours requirement. Right now, the legislation would require them to submit time sheets that would be subject to public disclosure.

Whether time sheets are used or another method, DuPage County Board member Elizabeth Chaplin says keeping track of board members’ hours could create accounting challenges for the county.

So the Downers Grove Democrat is proposing a resolution to withdraw the county board from IMRF. Chaplin said she got the idea from the McHenry County Board, which is considering an identical resolution.

DuPage County Board members who partipate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund:

John Curran, Peter DiCianni, Grant Eckhoff, Paul Fichtner, James Healy, Brian Krajewski, Donald Puchalski and James Zay

DuPage County Board members who don’t partipate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund:

Elizabeth Chaplin, Amy Grant, Gary Grasso, Tonia Khouri, Robert Larsen, Anthony Michelassi, Sean Noonan, Karyn Romano, Salvatore Tornatore and Kevin Wiley

You can read the full story here.

REBOOT ILLINOIS-CHAPLIN LETTER TO THE EDITOR: DUPAGE COUNTY BOARD SHOULD END PENSION PERK

 

Recently, the Illinois General Assembly unanimously passed Senate Bill 2701 that would prohibit newly-elected county board members from receiving pensions through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). The bill awaits the Governor’s signature.

This legislation has prompted the McHenry County Board to withdraw from IMRF citing challenges of accounting for hours spent on County business. Twenty-one county boards in Illinois have already opted out of the IMRF, including Winnebago, Peoria, Saline, Grundy and Rock Island.

The trend is clear. Taxpayer-funded pensions should not be a special privilege given to part-time county board members. Public service alone is a privilege.

For the DuPage County taxpayer, the pension burden for part-time elected officials is much greater than surrounding counties. Our board members’ salaries are by far the highest of the collar counties. Currently, our members receive $50,079 annually, about to increase to $51,081. A vested pension would one day give participants over $40,000 per year for life.

During a recent Finance Committee meeting, I expressed my surprise to learn that the IMRF conducted an audit of the DuPage County Board last summer. Only board members who participate in the IMRF were notified. All board members, including myself, should have been included. By not informing all of us, we lost an opportunity to at least discuss the matter.

You can read the full letter here.

After Approving Raises For Elected Officials Cronin Talks About DuPage County Budget Woes

A little less than a month after the DuPage County Board approved raises for elected officials  we are now hearing about the budget woes facing the County.

In an interview with WDCB News reporter Brian O’Keefe, Cronin talks about the 10 million dollar hole in the DuPage County Budget.

“We want to sign the contracts. We want to make sure the lights are on. We want to make sure the workers are in the field. We want to make sure we are providing services that are really pre-essential. Were a lean and mean operation here in DuPage but our mission is certainly in jeopardy,” – DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin.

You can listen to the interview here.

You can read about the raises here.

Pension Perks Ending For Part-Time County Board Members

The trend is clear.

Taxpayer funded pensions and healthcare should not be a special privilege given to part-time county board members. Public service is a privilege. 

For the DuPage County taxpayer, the pension burden for part-time elected officials is much greater than surrounding counties. DuPage County Board members salaries are by far the highest of the collar counties. Currently, DuPage County Board members receive $50,079 annually with an increase scheduled in December of 2016 the annual salary will then be $51,081.

McHenry County Board is starting the process to remove current and newly elected part-time county board members voluntarily from the IMRF. Will DuPage County Board do the same?

The Northwest Herald reports the following:

A bill that would end pensions for future county board members and require those now in the system to prove their working hours is headed to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.

And a resolution to end the McHenry County Board’s participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund altogether will work its way through the board starting Thursday.

Senate Bill 2701, which cleared the House and Senate in the final hours of the spring legislative session Tuesday, would disqualify future candidates elected to county boards from participating in IMRF. Existing board members already enrolled – the Illinois Constitution forbids altering their benefits – will have to fill out time sheets to prove that they are working the minimum hours required, either 600 or 1,000 hours a year, to qualify.

The bill as originally filed by state Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, created the time sheet requirement in response to an ongoing IMRF investigation of the McHenry County Board’s work hours instigated by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo. But Franks, who is running for County Board chairman, amended the law to end pensions altogether for members elected after the bill becomes law.

“Public dollars need to be spent on critical services, schools and infrastructure improvements, not on generous pensions for part-time board members,” Franks said. “We need to protect local taxpayers and the integrity of the IMRF, which is the best-run public pension fund in the state, from having their money siphoned off by elected officials who are gaming the system.”

Althoff said she was OK with Franks’ change because a number of county boards in the wake of the IMRF audit aimed at the McHenry County Board are examining whether to end pension participation on their own.

The McHenry County Board will start the process Thursday morning, when its Human Resources Committee is scheduled to take up and vote on a measure to eliminate IMRF for existing members as well as new ones effective with the Dec. 1 swearing in of the new board following the Nov. 8 election.

You can read the full story here. You can read related posts herehere and here .

 

The Trend Is Clear-No Special Privileges For Part-Time Elected Officials

The trend is clear.

Taxpayer funded pensions and healthcare should not be a special privilege given to county board members. Public service is a privelege.

Today, The McHenry County Board Human Resources Committee voted 7-0 supporting a resolution to not only eliminate IMRF as a benefit for newly elected members, but also to end participation for existing board members.

For the DuPage County taxpayer, the pension burden for part-time elected officials is much greater than surrounding county’s. DuPage County Board members salaries are by far the highest of the collar county’s. Currently, DuPage County Board members receive $50,079 annually with an increase scheduled in December of 2016 the annual salary will then be $51,081.

On Tuesday May 31st, I sent a similar resolution to members of the DuPage County Board who do not participate in the IMRF and those who have stated they do not support pension for part-elected officials. I sent the resolution in order to get support to have the resolution placed on the Finance Committee meeting scheduled for June 14, 2016. To date I have not received one response.

The Northwest Herald reports the following:

The Human Resources Committee on a 7-0 vote Thursday morning backed a resolution to not only eliminate IMRF as a benefit for newly elected members, but also to cease participation for existing ones. The resolution, if approved by the full County Board later this month, will take effect with the Dec. 1 start of the next county fiscal year, just prior to the new County Board getting sworn in following the Nov. 8 election.

The proposal comes in the wake of an ongoing investigation by the IMRF as to whether County Board members, most of whom are enrolled in the system, are working the minimum 1,000 hours a year necessary. It also comes days after Illinois lawmakers sent the governor a bill that would end pensions for future county board members statewide.

Committee members amended the resolution to apply to the County Board chairman, who starting with this year’s election will be popularly elected by the voters. Member Don Kopsell, R-Crystal Lake, voted no, stating that the chairmanship is a full-time job that should come with a pension.

County Board members who are already enrolled will keep their credit they have accumulated to date – the Illinois Constitution forbids altering pension benefits already accrued. Members who are already vested, meaning they served the minimum number of years to get an IMRF pension, will still get one upon reaching retirement age. Members who are not vested will not lose the credit they have accumulated to date, meaning it can be applied if they take a government job that is IMRF-eligible.

You can read the full story here.

DuPage County Calls Themselves The Model Of Good Government I Think We Can Learn A Thing Or Two From The Rock Island County Board

The following was written by Scott Terry, a member of the Rock Island County Board. This was his response when he read about the DuPage County raises here.

IMPORTANT! Pease read this article!! For all those who claim Rock Island County Board is not tightening their belts or doing anything positive….
Rock Island County Board Members have an annual salary of $6,000 a year. We just voted to freeze our salaries for another two years. The Rock Island County Board also just voted to end Members’ participation in the taxpayer-subsidized healthcare and pension system (BOTH of which I have NEVER accepted).
DuPage County has a dozen Members, who JUST voted themselves a 2% pay raise AND have retained their taxpayer-subsidized health insurance as well as their participation in the pension system.
I am truly inspired by my colleagues whom I am blessed to serve with on the RICo. Board. I am proud of the progress RICo. has demonstrated in just a few short years. For example, freezing salaries for elected officials and Board Members, creating and passing a new and sweeping ethics reform package, hiring the first-ever professional Administrator, decreasing the County Board Chairman slary from $90,000 to $22,000, creating an independent managing Board for Niabi Zoo, increasing Enterprise zones to strengthen local businesses and to help them expand while fighting back against unnecessary TIFs that hard-working taxpayers are forced to subsidize, and the list goes on and on and on. It is a new RICo. Board and I am proud to say, we are quickly becoming the Leader and role model for substantive reform and profound dedication to the community and consituency in which we serve!

 

HOUSE PASSES BILL BARRING NEW COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS FROM PARTICIPATING IN THE IMRF

Besides barring new County Board members from participating in the IMRF, Senate Bill 2701 requires that County Board members currently enrolled in the IMRF keep record of their hours worked to ensure they are meeting the annual requirement of either 600 or 1000 hours a year. This legislation has prompted McHenry County Board to withdraw from the IMRF citing challenges of accounting for all hours spent on addressing County business, both on and off the Government Center campus effective December 1, 2016.

The NORTHWEST HERALD Reports the following:
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House unanimously passed legislation Monday that would prohibit newly elected county board members from receiving pensions through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

Senate Bill 2701 now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

The bill was filed by Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, in response to an IMRF investigation into whether McHenry County Board members, all but a few of whom are enrolled in IMRF, are working the required 1,000 hours a year to qualify for pensions. State law sets a 600-hour standard, but allows local governments to set a higher 1,000-hour standard, which the County Board did in 1997. State Rep. Jack Franks called for the IMRF investigation.

Althoff’s original bill required local elected officials participating in IMRF to keep records of their hours. It initially passed the Senate. Franks, with Althoff’s permission, added an amendment in the House to bar newly elected board members from receiving IMRF pensions.

You can read the full story here .