JOLIET – After much discussion in recent days, the Will County Board agreed Thursday to remove a recommendation made Sept. 8 by the board’s Executive Committee to bar current and future board members from participating in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
There were 20 yes votes to remove the recommendation and five no votes. Members Cory Singer, R-Frankfort; Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen; Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen; Ray Tuminello, R-New Lenox; and Speaker Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, voted no.
Board members would have been removed from the retirement fund Dec. 1, the start of the new county fiscal year.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said that although members of the County Board want to save the county money, there would be no legal effect if the board passed the recommendation. The board doesn’t have authority to withdraw from the IMRF and the recommendation was not spurred by board member wrongdoing, Glasgow said.
The matter was debated in Will County after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Aug. 26 into law Senate Bill 2701, which was based on an IMRF investigation prompted earlier this year by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo.
Franks asked the IMRF to look into whether McHenry County Board members were working the required 1,000 hours a year to qualify for the fund. The McHenry County Board voted, 24-0, in June to end member participation in IMRF. Franks also authored the Senate bill, which seeks to remove county board pensions statewide over time by keeping newly elected board members from entering the IMRF.
The new law requires current board members to log and submit monthly reports of their hours in order to receive pension benefits. The Will County Board has a 600 hour a year requirement.
Current members, from both Republican and Democratic parties, offered varying opinions during an Executive Committee meeting Sept. 8, which can be viewed on a YouTube video, about why or why not to remove the board from the IMRF.
Fricilone said people should not be seeking pensions from a County Board seat, while Gretchen Fritz, R-Plainfield, said a County Board seat is not a full-time job but it does take members away from full-time jobs where they would contribute more to Social Security otherwise.
Chuck Maher, R-Naperville, said Sept. 8 that the state Legislature is trying to get back at McHenry County, but should look at the entire pension system rather than one part of it.
Don Moran, D-Romeoville, said he’s not a participant in IMRF and doesn’t intend to be, but was leery of supporting a measure that would take away from some members who may be counting on IMRF benefits for retirement.