Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lake County Board Votes to Keep IMRF Pension

Yesterday I watched the Lake County Board vote to support its members to receive a IMRF pension. While I was able to promote a vigorous debate on this issue last year, this resolution passed without a word of debate at the full board meeting and at the Finance Committee a week prior.

Senate Bill 2701 will eventually put an end to pensions for County Board members throughout the state but McHenry County in 2016 voted to reject pensions for its members.  The Lake County Board should have followed McHenry's lead in immediately stopping any additional pension liabilities from current and future board members. I think one unintended consequence of Senate Bill 2701 was while Board Members were receiving their full salary to allow them to start immediately drawing their monthly pension. I believe most current vested board members have significantly enhanced their compensation opting for their pension while continuing to serve.

Government reform can come in many forms to help reduce costs to the taxpayers. Wasteful spending, out sourcing to private companies, consolidation of governments and internal departments, and sharing capitol assets to provide services can all provide tax relief to citizens of our communities. 

Pensions for part-time policy makers like Lake County Board Members should be ended sooner than later.  As a managerial government we hire professional people to operate our government and carry out the policies that are put forward. The Lake County Board position is currently designed as a part time job that has well less than 10 scheduled (about 2hr.) meetings per month. The one great thing  Senate Bill 2701 does is preempt new Board Members from joining the IMRF plan so as the board turns over this pension offering will disappear. The one thing I have come to realize is the best way to effect change at our local level is for the State to Mandate reforms even though it does have a hard time dealing with its own problems.  I would suggest an amendment to SB2701 to stop any participation beginning in 2021. That would give notice to those that run 2 or 4 years from now that no pension would be available after that date. This policy could also be taken on by our Lake County Board. A hard cut off date is reasonable and affirmative pension reforms that benefit the taxpayer need to move forward asap.