The County Officials’ Sweetheart Pension Plan McHenry County Passed Up, Including GA Roll Calls

Yesterday I wrote about how Winnebago County’s board had decided they, as part-time employees didn’t deserve to have pensions.

Front page of the Chicago Tribune April 10, 2010.

Today, the Sunday Chicago Tribune has a front page article by Christy Gutowski, Joe Mahr and Joseph Ryan entitled,

Quite a deal

Former DuPage County official Bill Maio was able to

secure a $100,000 a-year pension

after working mostly part-time

I wrote yesterday of how it used to be and to some extent still is the number of years one have of government pension credits, plus the final salary that counted, that a McHenry County Board member could take the credits from the relatively lowly paid County Board post, get elected to a countywide office which now, astoundingly, pay $100,000 a year and, then, retire after 40 years total annual pension participation at 75% of final pay under the well-funded Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).

(I also pointed out my generous legislative pension in yesterday’s article.)

The Tribune article reminds me of a gambit that elected county officials convinced legislators to pass when I was in office to turn county officials into state legislators, as far as pension benefits went.

It’s called the “Elected County Officials” option.

Notice that to be eligible one has to be a politician.

Among retired DuPage County Officials who benefited from the special pension plan was former State's Attorney Joe Birkett. After resigning his post, he was apppointed to the 2nd Appellate Court. Click to enlarge

The request of legislators was to allow elected county officials to retire after 20 years at 80% of final salary.

That’s pretty close to the benefits legislators themselves had.

But, legislators are nervous folk.

If you can keep your county officials happy, maybe they won’t run against you.

Congressmen figured this out when they allowed state legislators to keep any expense money paid for being at state capitols tax free…whether or not it was spent on room and board.

Since some lobbying group or another is holding a reception with decent food virtually every session night, it’s not hard to spend the entire per diem payment. Former State Senator Jack Schaffer used to suggest that such money should not be paid unless it was spent.

But, back to the “Elected County Officials” pension plan.

The Tribune’s research says the bill passed overwhelmingly.

The Senate voted for it 55-2 n May 16, 1997.  Senator Dick Klemm of McHenry County supported the measure.  One of two senators who did not was Chris Lauzen from just south of the McHenry County border.


The Senate's May 16, 1997, vote on the county officials pension improvement bill.

The House, 105-10. (I voted against the bill, as you can see from the roll call below.  Ann Hughes, the other representative from McHenry County favored the bill.)


The May 23, 1997, House roll call on the county officials pension sweetener bill.

Governor Jim Edgar signed the bill.

As the arrangement went down, county officials would have ther pension payment increased from 4.5% of salary to 7.5%.

Local property taxpayers would pick up the rest.

The Tribune reports that more than half of Illinois county boards signed up for the benefit.

McHenry, Kane and Lake were not among them, but DuPage and Will Counties were.

So, think back to who was serving you on the McHenry County Board in the mid-1990’s and thank them for their good judgment, even though some countywide officials wanted the board to approve the plan so their pensions would increase a lot.


The County Officials’ Sweetheart Pension Plan McHenry County Passed Up, Including GA Roll Calls — 3 Comments

  1. Don’t have a problem with a fair pension for anyone, whats going on with government pensions is a crime on each and every tax payer. Was looking at tax bill and noticed all pension funds with the exception of one increased by 10 to 30 % from last year, what up with that. (2009 to 2010 property tax)

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