Sangamon County Board Gets IMRF Spotlight

Veteran political reporter Bernie Schoenberg of the State Journal-Register has picked up the county board member pension story.

The issue was started by McHenry County by State Rep. Jack Franks, who is polling to see if he should run for County Board Chairman.

The question is whether county board members work enough hours to qualify for the Illinois Municipal Retirement System pensions for which they signed up.

And, in McHenry County’s case, Franks asked for the State’s Attorney to appoint a special prosecutor to explore criminal implications.

One Sangamon County Democratic County Board member, Tony DelGiorno, said the following in the article:

“My guess is probably a few committee chairs and … definitely Chairman (Andy) Van Meter would be the only ones that would probably meet that threshold.”

An attorney, he said he doubted he met the 1,000 threshold. He is running for State Rep. against State Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, appointed to fill Raymond Poe’s spot when he resigned to become Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

When DelGiorno asked IMRF to withdraw he was told that he could not. [Want to be this won’t be an issue in his fall election?]

The only way out, according to IMRF Associate General Counsel Beth Janicki Clark is for the county board to make a determination by resolution that the position no longer qualifies for IMRF

The article contained a bit of new information about Franks’ McHenry County involvement:

“Franks said it was over lunch with an elected official when he was told county board members there sign forms saying they will work 1,000 hours a year to be in the system.

“Franks doubts that all board members in the pension system are meeting that standard.”

That it is open hunting season on county board members statewide is indicated by IMRF Executive Director Louis Kosiba telling Schoenberg that when a member of the public – state representative or not – raises a question of eligibility, IMRF will look into it.

Franks is the House sponsor of Senate Bill 2701 that State Senator Pam Althoff introduced to require board members in IMRF to keep a log of work performed.

He also told the State Journal-Register that he intends to introduce legislation to prevent county board members from participating in IMRF.

Franks told the paper:

“It’s a very part-time job.

“No other place, except in Illinois government, do people who work such few hours get full-time benefits and pensions.”

Republican McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Walkup called for withdrawal from IMRF for County Board members at the last meeting.

Also catching my eye was the salary of the County Board Chairman–$29,030. Chairman Andy Van Meter said he was at the office Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

McHenry County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller receives $82,200. Both counties have administrators.

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