Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler doubts whether all county board members currently enrolled in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) are putting in the necessary hours for eligibility in the pension fund.
A new law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner Aug. 26 ends pension benefits for future county board members in Illinois, but current members enrolled in IMRF are required to work at least 600 hours in a year to be pension eligible.
“What is 600 hours,” Prenzler said in a recent interview. “Under the new law it specifically says that driving back and forth from your town to the county seat to participate in the county seat doesn’t count.
"What you’re seeing here is everyone is quickly figuring out that there’s no way they can work 600 hours. At this point they have to say in writing that I worked 600 hours. They’re not going to be willing to do that because they just don’t get near that.”
Prenzler, a Republican, is challenging Democrat incumbent Alan Dunstan for chairmanship of county government in November,
“This change in the law for part-time elected officials originated in McHenry County right on the Wisconsin border,” Prenzler said. “It was bipartisan so it passed, unbelievably. This was passed 100 percent in the House and Senate.”
Under Senate Bill 2701, current members remain eligible for pension benefits but must document their time in order to participate in IMRF.
“Once you’re in, you’re in forever,” Prenzler said. “They make it very hard to stop. They’ve made a decision for all of eternity.”
The new law makes it a felony if a county board member lies about the number of hours worked to get pension benefits through IMRF. County board members must sign an affidavit attesting they know it is a felony if they lie about the number of hours they work. Current county board members must work 10 years to be eligible for IMRF benefits.