Audit: No documentation Elk Grove Village trustees qualify for IMRF pension plan

  • An audit shows Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson provided required documentation to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, but trustees did not. The board is, back row from left, Sam Lissner, Jeff Franke, Pat Feichter, James Petri, and front row, Nancy Czarnik, Mayor Craig Johnson and Chris Prochno. Feichter isn't part of IMRF's system.

    An audit shows Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson provided required documentation to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, but trustees did not. The board is, back row from left, Sam Lissner, Jeff Franke, Pat Feichter, James Petri, and front row, Nancy Czarnik, Mayor Craig Johnson and Chris Prochno. Feichter isn't part of IMRF's system. Courtesy of Elk Grove Village

 
 
Updated 12/23/2016 4:56 PM

Elk Grove Village trustees could not prove they worked enough to qualify for a taxpayer-funded pension for municipal employees, according to an audit.

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund launched an investigation into the board of trustees and Mayor Craig Johnson after a suburban-based labor union in August questioned whether the elected officials worked enough hours to participate in the program.

 

Members of the International Union of Operating Engineers 150 raised the allegations after the village board passed a resolution in April supporting parts of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's turnaround agenda, which labor groups have criticized as anti-union. The village board agreed last week to rescind support for the agenda by January to avoid a lawsuit from the union.

In August, attorneys for the pension system asked for documentation the elected village board members worked 1,000 hours a year. The threshold is an average of 20 hours per week for all but two weeks of the year.

Johnson provided proof he reached the requirement by working about 1,136 hours in 2015, but the village's five trustees in the pension system did not provide documentation, according to the audit. Trustee Pat Feichter, a retired teacher, does not participate in the program.

None of the participating trustees provided an affidavit stating they had worked at least 1,000 hours, said Nisa Neely, a spokeswoman for the pension system. The affidavit does not require trustees to list specific hours, but falsifying the document is a felony offense.

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Board trustees have until October 2017 to provide documentation of time spent on village business; otherwise, they should remove themselves from the pension system, according to the audit.

"They have until next year to comply," Neely said. "Really, the ball is in their court."

Union officials said even if board members spent three hours preparing for every hour in a meeting, the total would be less than 1,000 hours. Village officials have disputed the claim, however, arguing the union did not count time spent organizing communities events and meeting with community members.

The union also questioned McHenry County Board members' eligibility for pensions after the board's passed a similar endorsement of Rauner's agenda last year. Last June, the board passed a resolution rescinding members' pension system benefits.

Johnson returned a phone call Thursday, but could not be immediately reached Friday.

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