Part-Time County Board Pension Question

Yesterday, the answers to the $41.3 million Valley Hi Nursing Home bank balance question by the ten candidates for District 4, 5 and 6 County Board seats were shared with McHenry County Blog readers.

Kay Bates, Sue Draffkorn, Craig Wilcox, Joe Calomino, Mike Skala, Andy Snarski, Jim Kearns, Kelly Liebmann, Preston Rea, Ersel Schuster faced the voters at McHenry County College Tuesday night.

Kay Bates, Sue Draffkorn, Craig Wilcox, Joe Calomino, Mike Skala, Andy Snarski, Jim Kearns, Kelly Liebmann, Preston Rea, Ersel Schuster faced the voters at McHenry County College Tuesday night.

One of the six questions that found its way into the McHenry County League of Women Voters forum for County Board candidates running in Districts 4, 5 and 6 Tuesday night was about the pensions that the “part-time” County Board members receive.

(Actually, starting with those elected in 2014, not all of them take the pension.  Andrew Gasser, for instance, is not doing so.)

The question had two parts:

  1. Should County Board members receive pensions for part-time positions?
  2. Will you take a pension or not?

DrAffkorn looking right bestFirst to answer was District 4 incumbent Sue Draffkorn from Wonder Lake.

She said the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension was appropriate and that she would be collecting about $300 a month, “not something I can live on.”

Draffkorn will have ten years in the pension program by the time she finishes this term.

She said it was difficult to hold a full-time job while being a County Board member.

In the same district, but answering last was Kay Bates.

Kay Bates

Kay Bates

The final one to answer the question was District 4 challenger Kay Bates.

“We get a pension?” she asked incredulously.

“I didn’t know about that.

“I will not be taking it.”

Craig Wilcox

Craig Wilcox

Craig Wilcox talked of a Freedom Pledge which led him to revealing that he is voluntarily term limiting himself to two terms.  (There was no term limit question.)

“I will not be taking the public pension,” the District 4 candidate pledged.

Joe Calomino

Joe Calomino

Next was District 5 candidate Joe Calomino.

His answer was short:

“I do not plan on taking the pension.”

District 5 incumbent Mike Skala’s reply was even shorter:



Skala looking a bit left without mike

Mike Skala

The questions, remember, were (1) should the county board members have a pension and (2) are you going to take a pension.

I was confused because Skala is already in the pension program and, once one is in, the only way out is for the County Board to pull everyone on the Board out of IMRF.

So, after the meeting, I asked Skala to expand on his answer.

He said he favored County Board members having a pension, but would not be taking his because “I won’t be there long enough to qualify.”

It is my understanding that one must be in IMRF for eight years to qualify for a pension.

Andy Snarski

Andy Snarski

District 5 challenger Andy Snarski said he did not only disapprove of the part-time County Board members receiving a pension, but that he would not participate in the pension program.

Further, he said he would not take part in what he characterized as the County’s Cadillac health care plan.

He went on to suggest that per diems (being paid for each meeting attended) would be better than salaries now paid.

Referring to Draffkorn’s estimated $300 a month IMRF pension, Snarski quoted her:

“It’s just a little bit–$300.”

“That’s what’s crushing us,” he said referring to the little bits here and the little bits there.

Jim Kearns

Jim Kearns

Grafton Township Supervisor, running for a District 6 seat, said he approved of the pension for County Board m embers and would take it.

Another District 6 non-incumbent, Kelly Liebmann challenged the question’s premise.

Kelly Liebmann

Kelly Liebmann

She said the position was a full-time, not a part-time job.

(The job pays about $21,000 a year, plus pension, Social Security contributions and health insurance, the combination of which can double to salary in some cases.)

Preston Rea

Preston Rea

With regard to whether she would take the pension, she said her husband favored her participation in IMRF, but she was leaning against it.

The third District 5 challenger, Alden Township Supervisor Preston Rea agreed with Liebmann with regard to the job not being a part-time one.

“The benefits that are out there should be there.

“There has to be some benefit to doing this.”

Ersel Schuster

Ersel Schuster

Non-incumbent Ersel Schuster, running to regain her seat on the County Board in District 6 mentioned her web site more than any other candidate.

She said eliminating the County Board members’ pensions was “Number one in my document for proposing saving money.”

When she was in office in the 1990’s, she said she had “no choice.”

Continuing, Schuster said she “would take it, if I paid into it.”

As a long-time Seneca Township Supervisor, Schuster was in the same pension fund in which county employees participate.

Members “should not be taking health insurance,” she asserted, pointing out that “It doubles the salary.”

The question of whether candidates would take health benefits, which can almost equal members’ salaries was not asked, although, as you can see above, the subject was brought up.

Incumbent Mary McCann did not attend the McHenry County League of Women Voters Forum.


Part-Time County Board Pension Question — 16 Comments

  1. There are three types of Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) plans.

    1. “Regular” which is the most popular.

    2. Elected County Official (ECO), which counties can opt into (McHenry County has not).

    3. Sheriff Law Enforcement Plan (SLEP), which is for county sheriff departments.

    Thus McHenry County Board members whom opt into IMRF would be in the “Regular” plan.


    Next, IMRF has two “Tiers”, as do most Illinois public sector pension funds.

    Tier I (Tier 1) is for those employees beginning their career prior to January 1, 2011.

    Tier II (Tier 2) is for those employees beginning their career on or after January 1, 2011.


    IMRF has good benefits, but not as lucrative as most of the other Illinois public sector pension funds.

    IMRF is also better funded than most other Illinois public sector pension funds.

    That’s not only because the benefits are less generous, but also because in many cases the pay hikes have been less generous, and also because there is a stricter enforcement mechanism for the employer contribution to the pension fund.


    Here are the counties that have opted into IMRF ECO:

    Alexander County
    Bond County
    Boone County
    Brown County
    Bureau County
    Cass County
    Champaign County
    Christian County
    Clark County
    Clay County
    Clinton County
    Coles County
    Crawford County
    Dewitt County
    DuPage County
    Edgar County
    Effingham County
    Fayette County
    Ford County
    Fulton County
    Gallatin County
    Greene County
    Hamilton County
    Hardin County
    Henderson County
    Iroquois County
    Jackson County
    Jasper County
    Jefferson County
    Kankakee County
    Kendall County
    LaSalle County
    Macon County
    Macoupin County
    Madison County
    Marion County
    Marshall County
    Mason County
    Massac County
    Menard County
    Mercer County
    Montgomery County
    Morgan County
    Ogle County
    Peoria County
    Perry County
    Piatt County
    Pike County
    Pope County
    Pulaski County
    Randolph County
    Rock Island County
    Saline County
    Schuyler County
    Scott County
    Shelby County
    St Clair County
    Union County
    Vermilion County
    Wabash County
    Wayne County
    White County
    Will County
    Williamson County
    Winnebago County
    Woodford County


    Here are the counties that have not opted into ECO:

    Adams County
    Calhoun County
    Carroll County
    Cumberland County
    DeKalb County
    Douglas County
    Edwards County
    Franklin County
    Grundy County
    Hancock County
    Henry County
    Jersey County
    Jo Daviess County
    Johnson County
    Kane County
    Knox County
    Lake County
    Lawrence County
    Lee County
    Livingston County
    Logan County
    McDonough County
    McHenry County
    McLean County
    Monroe County
    Moultrie County
    Putnam County
    Richland County
    Sangamon County
    Stark County
    Stephenson County
    Tazewell County
    Warren County
    Washington County
    Whiteside County


    There are more notes about IMRF in the comments of these posts:


    Health benefits are more complicated and less transparent than pensions.


    When is McHenry County going to complete and release their FY 2015 CAFR?


    In terms of Transparency, McHenry County does have a Board Packet (Agenda Packet) for may meetings.

    All sizable taxing districts and that would include school districts should post an electronic Board Packet for each open board meeting.

    The board packet contains attachments for each agenda item, so the public has access to much of the same information as the board.


    However the McHenry County Board does not videotape board meetings and post the recordings on the board website.

    That is a needed transparency measure for taxpayers whom are not able to physically attend board meetings.


    Notably the Crystal Lake High School District 155 Board has neither board packets (agenda packets) nor videotaped board meetings.

  2. If other part time county employees can’t participate in IMRF than neither should part time board members.

    Especially those past retirement age.

  3. No elected official should be receiving taxpayer funded healthcare – period.

    No elected official should be receiving a taxpayer funded pension – period.

    We have a real challenge recruiting people to run for office or volunteer to be appointed (that is, people who are willing to ‘represent’ We the People) because for those who actually represent the

    People, many elected / appointed positions are a full time job.


    fire protection district trustee,
    library board trustee,
    cemetery board,
    park district,
    rescue squad,
    sanitary district,
    township trustees,
    conservation districts

    To attract qualified people, most taxpayers are willing to pay for proper representation (pay should be per meeting attended).

    However, that pay should never include pensions or other ‘benefits’.

    Why do we not pay school board members but we compensate some County Board members in excess of $40,000?

    Some Board members do not attend all Committee meetings, some do not attend all Board meetings, some do not prepare for ANY meeting.

    A classic example was last year’s attempt to have the Voters approve Township Consolidation.

    The Township Consolidation committee should never have been created and would not, had the Board Chairman and the person who chaired the committee done just a little bit of research in advance.

    We, the taxpayer, cannot force those elected to do a job properly but we can refuse to re-elect them.
    Anyone notice that school districts continue to increase your property tax but at least the County has frozen its levy?

    We pay county board members and appear to have no shortage of candidates but school boards are primarily stacked with relatives of teachers and administrators OR retired school teachers and administrative staff.

    In 2013, the per capita income in McHenry County was $29,666. (

  4. You can’t vote enough people out at any given time to make any substantial difference.

    We pay our taxes and that pays them and they turn against us.

    In my opinion power makes people a little greedy and a little goofy.

  5. It now takes 10 years to get vested in IMRF.

    That makes it not very likely that any newly elected board member would choose to take an IMRF pension.

    To do so is saying that they expect to serve on the county board for at least 10 years,,,,,,,,,,

  6. Preston is going to make this a full-time job, he has to find ways to spend that 40 Million Dollar slush fund at Valley Hi which he wants to shift to the general fund and spend it as the MCBOT sees fit on economic issues.

    This guy is a disaster and hopefully the voters in his district will see it!


  7. There has to be some benefit to doing this?????????

    How about peronal integrity and wanting to do good for the ske of your neighbors?

    Who are these freaks?

    I can’t wait until the whole system collapses upon itself because of greedy fools that think they know better than everyone else how to direct our lives.

  8. This post pretty much sums up McHenry County woes.

    But my fav has to be the one who’s husband says she should take it, but she’s still not sure.

    You can’t make this stuff up

  9. Snarski’s answers are the best.

    Hasn’t Kelly Liebmann been asking for the last few years of everyone who runs whether they are going to take the pension or not?

    I think many would like to know her final answer before Mar 15.

    so they can see whether she thinks this should pertain to her as well.

  10. “She said the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension was appropriate and that she would be collecting about $300 a month, “not something I can live on.””

    Plus the Cadillac health insurance you conveniently forgot to mention, you snake.

  11. Maybe I should run because I can do part time and I need health insurance.

    The pension would just be icing on the cake.

  12. David, you are a riot.

    If you were at the League of Women Voters forum you would have heard me say the Valley High slush fund money should be returned to the taxpayers.

    I am the person that brought the subject up.

    Apparently facts don’t matter to you or you are misinformed.

  13. That is good to hear Preston.

    Then with your successful election to MCBOT I can look forward to you taking the vocal lead on making sure this 40 Million Dollars of Valley Hi reserves is refunded to McHenry County taxpayers.

    I look forward to my tax refund check as I am sure your electorate will be as well.

    Why don’t you share with yoru constituants your plan on how you are going to make this “return ot taxpaers” happen?

    Not sure why a self proclaimed tax reformer like yourself would want to take full-time cadillac benefits paid for by taxpayers for a part time political job as a MCBOT.

    I quess you are a complex man full of contradictions or better yet another “say anything but do nothing candidate for MCBOT”.

    While you may find me to be riot, I find candidates like yourself to be pathetic and the reason why McHenry County is ranked #19 in US in per capita taxation . . . .


  14. Preston Rea:

    What’s your position on Valley Hi remaining in business? Should the County of McHenry operate a nursing home? Why or why not?

  15. Everybody says county board is a part time job.

    I would be interested in hearing from some current board members, about how long do they spend preparing and researching for the board meetings and for their various committee meetings?

    How long do board members spend meeting with constituents, discussiing problems and solutions at the county level?

    And, how much of that time is spent trying to explain to rabidly misinformed voters what falls under the purview of county business and what does not, ie, the 60% of property tax bill which goes directly to the schools, is generally hiked to the maximum every year, and the county board really can’t do anything about it?

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