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Local News

County Board may try to eliminate pensions for some elected offices

Board members think certain countywide officeholders are too highly compensated

JOLIET – The Will County Board renewed talks Thursday about the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, but this time discussions centered around whether to eliminate certain countywide offices from the pension system in the future.

The county contributes about 20 percent of countywide officials’ salaries each year into the IMRF. Some board members think countywide officials who might work much less than 40 hours a week for the county are getting too much compensation.

The dialogue Thursday was spurred by a resolution the board’s Executive Committee positively recommended in which countywide officeholders are required to work a minimum of 1,000 hours a year to qualify for the IMRF.

The resolution comes after the IMRF Board of Trustees decided to require
government bodies to reaffirm every
two years whether countywide officeholders meet the minimum of 1,000 hours a year.

The resolution includes the Will County executive, treasurer, auditor, clerk, coroner, recorder, state’s attorney, circuit clerk and sheriff.

“I don’t believe elected officials should get a pension,” committee member Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, said. “Pensions are for people getting into a career. Being elected to public service is not supposed to be a career.”

Will County Auditor Duffy Blackburn was in attendance and pointed out that people run for office based on their professional and career experience. And for many officials, such as him, it’s a career because of the amount of time and expertise they devote to it, he said.

However, countywide officeholders have similar salaries but varying levels of time commitment, budgets and office sizes, County Board Speaker Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, said.

“Quite frankly, I don’t think all of our county wide officials are working full time,” Moustis said.

Committee member Tom Weigel, R-New Lenox, said the board should push the state Legislature to enact a requirement that countywide officeholders work 40 hours a week.

County Board Majority Leader Chuck Maher, R-Naperville, agreed and said the board should start talking about which countywide offices deserve pensions.

Committee member Ray Tuminello, R-New Lenox, said, “just remember that we all represent the good residents of Will County and we make a decision based on what’s best for them, and not who we’re going to ‘hurt’ in their current position.”

In September, the board wanted to bar its current and future members from enrolling in the IMRF pension system. But the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office found there would no legal effect if the board passed that resolution.

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