The County Board IMRF Question

I have been so inundated that two topics that deserve thoughtful consideration haven’t been covered.

One of them is the practice of McHenry County Board members getting pensions.

David Stieper and Andrew Gasser brought up the topic during the 2014 Republican Primary Election. (Link also has total compensation for County Board members for 2013-14.)

Gasser and Stieper were both endorsed by the Northwest Herald, whose Editorial Board just recently came out against County Board members having pensions.

Stieper dedicated a mailing to to the subject two years ago, the front of which you can see below:

David Stieper's 2014 gravy train campaign piece.

David Stieper’s 2014 gravy train campaign piece.

Stieper was trying to derail the train that State Rep. Jack Franks has just recently noticed.

Franks’ staff has done some original research.

They have calculated how many hours County Board members have spent in Board and committee meetings.

You can see those calculations below:

Hours spent in County Board and committee meetings during 2015, according to Jack Franks.

Hours spent in County Board and committee meetings during 2015, according to Jack Franks.

Four Board members do not participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pension system:

  • Andrew Gasser (Did not sign up for the pension after elected.)
  • Don Kopsell (Receiving IMRF pension from time as Nunda Township Road Commissioner)
  • Bob Nowak (Receiving IMRF pension from time working for the Village of Cary)
  • Jeff Thorsen (Did not sign up for the pension after appointed.)

There is one Board member–Robert Martens–who may be off the hook.

Look at his sign-up sheet for IMRF:

This is one sign-up form for IMRF that Jack Franks submitted to the State's Attorney's Office. Note that Robert Martens did not affix his signature and writes, "Not IMRF qualified."

This is one sign-up form for IMRF that Jack Franks submitted to the State’s Attorney’s Office. Note that Robert Martens did not affix his signature and writes, “Not IMRF qualified.”

Franks asked McHenry County State’s Attorney to appoint a special prosecutor.

That means to me that Franks thinks there has been criminal misconduct.

A prosecutor would have to prove that the County Board members whom Franks presumably wants indicted did not work 1,000 hours.

It seems to me that it will be quite difficult to prove a negative.

In fact, the way I have heard it, people say, “You can’t prove a negative.”

Nevertheless, if I were a County Board member, I would be more than a little nervous, if I couldn’t prove that I worked 1,000 hours a year.

Now I know that people run for public office for three reasons–the “three P’s,” as the Field Director of the Republican National Committee explained to a Jacksonville campaign management school I attending in the late 1960’s when I was McHenry County Treasurer.

Here are the “Three P’s”:

  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Pecuniary (that is, money)

Certainly, there are members of the County Board and candidates who are motivated by the compensation (including health insurance and pension benefits).

So, what should the McHenry County Board do?

I’d suggest following the 2011 example of the Winnebago County Board.

In the April 4, 2011, Rockford Register-Star, the lead story is about the Winnebago County Board's dropping their pensions for County Board members.

In the April 4, 2011, Rockford Register-Star, the lead story is about the Winnebago County Board’s dropping their pensions for County Board members.

I’m assuming that anyone elected for the first time this year will be smart enough not to sign up for IMRF pension benefits.

But what should incumbents do?

Discussion should be had with attorneys about how to extricate themselves from what seems to be something like a tar baby that Rep. Franks has brought into the room.

They are unlike to escape as easily from a civil courtroom briar patch as Brer Rabbit did from the thorns into which Brer Fox tossed him.

It is my guess that if any of the incumbents end up in a courtroom, it will cost more than their pension would pay for a very, very long time.

Maybe it would be best to find a way to withdraw from IMRF before any benefits are paid.


The County Board IMRF Question — 12 Comments

  1. I was going to post this on another entry in the blog but I decided to put it here. The title of my entry would be: HOW FAST CAN YOU READ AND DIGEST OVER 7,000 PAGES OF COUNTRY BOARD GENERAL MEETING PACKETS?

    Alabamashake: If you honestly believe that Franks’ attack is an honest one, I have a bridge to sell you!

    When we elect someone to an office, school board, county board, library board, township, municipality, fire district, state legislature, Congress, or any other office, we elect them to do a job.

    For that job in almost every instance with the exception of school boards, we, the taxpayers provide a salary and in some cases benefits.

    Those salaries and benefits are SET by the people you elect. If you feel the person elected does not deserve to be compensated, do not vote for him / her.

    If you believe the salaries are too high, find someone willing to work to lower them to run for the office.

    Is it the old refrain:

    You get what you pay for?

    School boards are paid zero.

    Our property taxes are through the roof due to school district expenses.

    Could it possibly be the type of individual running for school boards is the problem?

    Retired teachers?

    People who have family members working for the school district?

    People who strongly support unions?

    One other segment of government which is pricing people out of this county and state is the CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEE OF PENSIONS AND INCREASES!!

    The pensions which have the least FUNDING problem is IMRF.

    So, what does Jack Franks and Local 150 attack?

    The County Board members who pay into IMRF.

    Unless you are a member of and pay into IMRF for TEN years, you get no pension – you do get back the portion of your salary you paid in but you get not one extra penny from IMRF.

    If you are running for the County Board or if you plan to, you may want to know that the county board packets for 2015 contained SIX THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY SEVEN PAGES.

    This does NOT include the THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE PAGE budget document.

    You tell me, how long would it take you to read and understand the contents of those pages?

    The page count is only for the Board meetings – it excludes all committee meeting packets.

    Again, if the person you elect is not doing the job – fire him / her.

    Do not fall for the distraction placed in your path by Local 150 and their sidekick, Jack Franks who certainly does not read all the legislation he votes on in Springfield.

  2. Andrew Gasser says he puts in about 30 hours a week, prep reading, going to meetings, talking to staff and residents.

    Oddly enough, Anna Miller said about the same time.

    I pressed her on a issue some time in the past, not sure what that was, her packet of papers was all marked up, underlined words, and highlighted sections.

    Question is do they all put in the time, without time sheets, where is the proof they don’t put in the time.

  3. If memory serves it was decided in Nov 2001 that elected officials could buy 50 months imrf credit thereby turning one term into a vested pension.

    The timing was such that this was passed while we were all focused elsewhere, specifically on the 911 tragedy.

  4. Cal, I hope you bring this one back after the election results quiet down.

    It could be made an issue in the Franks campaign.

    Franks is great at creating work paid for with taxpayer dollars.

    Franks was on how many consolidation committees with what results?

    Franks wastes legislative time and resource on ‘what time does the movie start?’.

    On and on and on.

  5. I am even for removing salary payable to Board members and health benefits and going to a per diem arrangement.

    That is to say, if a board member is in attendance at a board meeting he or she gets paid, if not, you don’t get paid.

    Andrew Gasser who has been on the County Board for a shorter period of time by a term than Bob Nowak does not warrant Bob Nowak receiving same pay.

    NO-WAK apparently has been a “No-Show”.

    The argument you get what you pay for falls flat on its face with the fact that McHenry County is the 19th highest taxed county per capita in the entire United States.

    Cautious Voter, the statistics do not support your argument.

    Finally, the County Board should be cut in half, a Board in excess of 20 people is too large to get anything done and allows members too much opportunity to hide behind these numbers.

    Size and compensation to Board is symptomatic of the County as a whole.

    I have been on VBH plan commission and VBH zoning board of appeals for VBH totaling more than 10 years and have never asked for a dime.

    This type of arrangement encourages turnover and citizen government rather than entrenchment and croynism.

    It is called “civic duty”.

  6. Regardless if Jack Franks has a motive, this is a real and serious issue.

    You can claim it’s just politics, and it may be, but you ought to confront the reality of this material.

    I am no stranger to Local 150, having represented numerous parties against them.

    It may be shocking to most people who know me that I could wind up on the same side of any issue with Local 150.

    That said, if these county board members didn’t work 1,000 hours for county board business they have an issue that they need to address.

    For instance it was reported on this site that Anna May Miller is paid $97,000 to be an administrative assistant for her husband in the Algonquin Township Hwy Dept.

    I can only assume that is a full time job at that outrageous salary, plus the additional 20hrs week on the county board makes her pension claim appear that much more questionable.

    The posters that vilify Jack Franks miss the point of his position.

    The legitimacy of an issue is not dependent on the person asking the question.

  7. Robert call Anna and ask to see her marked up packets, then your question would be answered.

  8. @Nob You believe these people are spending over 20 hours PER WEEK on the county board-

    You are out of you mind.

    If that is true- explain how they have time to campaign now.

    Even if they are- why am I paying them a pension-

    you are so against pensions for teachers- who get a pension- and no social security for a full time job but feel an elected office should get a pension- what????

    And explain why I pay part of the healthcare for them and their family? It is an elected position and Part time at that.

    Name another JOB that has a pension and subsidized healthcare for part time hours.

    If Andrew is working 30 hours- how does he have time to knock on 10,000 doors?

    SO county board members with full time jobs are working 70+ hours per week , every week???

    You believe that? 6427 pages multiplied by 3 minutes per page.

    19,281 minutes equals 321 hours- still a far cry from the 1,000.

    If you can’t read a page in 3 minutes- get off the board and go back to school.

  9. I love the math.

    Oh let’s get the highlighters out and see what we can do to make up enough crap to see if we can cover up our 20 hours a week.

    I is his spot on!

    From what I understand about the Hanlon and Lee war, he’d look really closely at those pages.

    Nob go get the pages from Anna May and send them to Hanlon for our amusement.

  10. Inish, I never said they should get pensions or healthcare, I passed on what two board members from opposing sides have told me their hours put in each week are.

    I also never said teachers deserve a pension.

    I have said state pensions system should be modified more like IMRF is with no healthcare.

    I also said the top percentages of all pensions should be reduced, even IMRFs, say to 70%

    Jack 85% after 20, bad.

    I read slower than many, some read way faster.

    Andrew should make a point of trying to get rid of both for board members, but he talks more than walks.

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