Push made to end pensions for DuPage County Board

  • State Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, has proposed legislation that would prevent new county board members from being eligible for a public pension.

    State Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, has proposed legislation that would prevent new county board members from being eligible for a public pension.

  • Elizabeth Chaplin, a Downers Grove Democrat, is proposing a resolution to withdraw the DuPage County Board from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

    Elizabeth Chaplin, a Downers Grove Democrat, is proposing a resolution to withdraw the DuPage County Board from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

 
 
Updated 6/10/2016 5:52 PM

A DuPage County Board member is calling on the panel to withdraw from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund ahead of a proposed state law that would end pensions for some elected positions.

State Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, has proposed legislation that would prevent new county board members from being eligible for a public pension.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I don't think anyone who works part-time hours should get a full-time pension," said Franks, who is now running for McHenry County Board chairman. "So my goal is to get rid of all that."

The proposal already has been approved in Springfield by the House and Senate. Franks says he's "confident" the governor will sign it into law.

If the measure becomes law, it will require county board members already enrolled in IMRF to prove they're working a certain number of hours on county-related business. In the case of DuPage board members, they're supposed to be working at least 1,000 hours a year.

"I'm going to ask IMRF to start removing people who aren't able to prove that they've made their hours," Franks said.

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It's yet to be determined how county board members would document that they're meeting the hours requirement. Right now, the legislation would require them to submit time sheets that would be subject to public disclosure.

Whether time sheets are used or another method, DuPage County Board member Elizabeth Chaplin says keeping track of board members' hours could create accounting challenges for the county.

So the Downers Grove Democrat is proposing a resolution to withdraw the county board from IMRF. Chaplin said she got the idea from the McHenry County Board, which is considering an identical resolution.

"It's something our board needs to address," Chaplin said on Friday. "No county board members should be eligible for a pension. We're part-time elected officials."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Chaplin said her proposed resolution wouldn't apply to the county board chairman.

In DuPage, there are eight county board members enrolled in IMRF, officials said.

Board members aren't required to enroll in IMRF, but once they do, they can't withdraw unless they leave office.

Chaplin is one of the 10 board members who decided not to participate in the pension program.

County board members become vested after eight years. After 20 years, board members are eligible to receive 80 percent of their final year's salary.

DuPage board members now make $50,079 a year, and that will increase to $51,081 in December. Board members also are eligible to receive health insurance through the county.

County board member James Healy of Naperville said others started talking about the possibility of the board leaving IMRF before Chaplin drafted her resolution.

"She's late to the party," said Healy, one of the board members enrolled in IMRF.

In fact, Healy said he believes most members of the 18-person board are open to the idea. But before any resolution is considered at the county level, there are questions that need to be answered.

"The problem is that nobody knows what this (proposed state legislation) means yet," Healy said. "Nobody wants to do anything until the governor signs it."

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