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updated: 5/24/2013 6:48 PM

County officials stands neutral on state pension reform proposals

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Kane County officials decided Friday they will not support either of the major pension reform proposals under consideration in Springfield -- despite having a potential financial interest in the debate.

The county board's legislative committee reviewed both the House and Senate pension reform proposals Friday, using Chairman Chris Lauzen as a guide.

Committee members expressed trepidation about taking sides in a political tug-of-war between House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, the sponsors of the competing proposals. And having reviewed the aspects of the proposals, committee members said there was nothing in either of the plans that drew them so strongly they would favor one over the other.

Lauzen said the county has a financial interest in state pension reform only inasmuch that it affects the state's overall solvency. A financially stable state government reduces the likelihood Springfield lawmakers would decide to dip into state money that is distributed to local governments, including Kane County, Lauzen said.

"What I was hoping is we would see is that local governments would be included in the pension reform, but that's not in there," Lauzen said. "Our direct interest is in local reforms. We're going to do our best to make sure we fully fund our obligations, but any reform might have helped."

Lauzen said the county has about $23 million in unfunded Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund liability and another $22 million of unfunded obligations in the retirement fund sheriff's deputies use. County board members will review that debt and some pension forecasts next week when a representative from IMRF makes a presentation.

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