SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Jack D. Franks, D-Marengo, passed legislation unanimously through the House on Saturday that will prohibit newly elected part-time county board members from receiving pensions through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).
“Public dollars should be spent on critical service and infrastructure, not on pensions for part-time board members who may not even be eligible to receive them,” Franks said. “We need to prevent future part-time county board officials from collecting taxpayer-funded benefits and ensure that the taxpayer dollars in this fund are not being siphoned off by elected officials who game the system.”
Following Franks’ call in March for an independent investigation into McHenry County Board members’ eligibility for taxpayer-funded pensions, the IMRF started an internal inquiry to determine whether members were in violation of IMRF’s policy by not working or documenting the required 1,000 hours per year. Questions have now been raised about county board members’ eligibility in communities across the state.
Senate Bill 2701 is the result of collaboration between Franks and the IMRF. The measure would prevent newly elected, part-time municipal officials, including county board members, from collecting pensions that are funded by local taxpayers. The bill also requires current municipal officials to keep detailed records in order to ensure that they are meeting the requirements for receiving pension benefits.
“With the difficult financial challenges facing our local governments, it is time for local officials to tighten their belts, rather than continuing to raise property taxes that are forcing them to consider leaving Illinois,” Franks said. “The Senate should send this to the governor as quickly as possible so that taxpayers understand we hear their cries for property tax relief and are working on their behalf.”
Senate Bill 2701 now returns to the Senate for a final concurrence vote before being sent to the governor to be signed into law.