EDWARDSVILLE – A new pension rule for Madison County employees will save taxpayers money, county officials say.
The County Board on Wednesday adopted a resolution that exempts new part-time employees from participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which administers disability, retirement and death benefits for local government employees in Illinois. The program is funded through contributions from government employees, local governments and investment returns.
A new employee must now work at least 1,000 hours per year to be enrolled in the program. The previous benchmark was 600 hours, equivalent to 12 hours per week. Newly hired employees now must work at least 20 hours per week to earn pension benefits.
Current employees working 600 hours per year will continue to be enrolled in the program, County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said in a press release.
“This change affects new hires, not existing employees,” Prenzler said.
Local governments are mandated to provide funding for the program, even if it means cutting other services.
“This change is beneficial to the county and to the standpoint of saving taxpayers money,” board member Ray Wesley, a Godfrey Republican and chairman of the Personnel and Labor Relations Committee, said in the release.
A state law effective Dec. 1 requires county board members to document their work hours and file monthly reports to ensure they are working enough hours to qualify for benefits. The law also bars newly elected board members from receiving benefits.
The board voted to end board members' participation in the pension program at its Sept. 21 meeting last year.
“The board took a proactive stance when the board members opted themselves out of IMRF,” Wesley said in the release.
Chairman again overrules motion for special meeting
As he did at the Dec. 21 meeting, Prenzler overruled Granite City Democrat Arthur Asadorian's motion for a special meeting to address what he and other board members say was an illegal Dec. 5 meeting. At that meeting, at which newly elected County Board members were sworn into office, Prenzler allowed former board member Stephen Adler to preside because of Adler’s familiarity with the board’s procedures. But Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons has said Adler lacked the authority to preside over the meeting and advised the board to convene a new meeting to legitimize the actions taken Dec. 5.
Prenzler contends the Dec. 5 meeting is valid and refused to allow Asadorian's motion.
“You are out of order, as you were at the last meeting,” Prenzler said.
In another issue broached by board members at the Dec. 21 meeting, Edwardsville Democrat Jack Minner asked Prenzler about two department head appointments: Adler, the nominee for director of administration; and Kristen Poshard, the nominee for community development director. They both are working for the county under different job titles. Adler is the deputy county administrator; Poshard's title is chief deputy administrator.
“Why have they not been brought to us for approval?” Minner asked Prenzler.
The appointments of Adler, Poshard and others originally were on the Dec. 5 agenda but were pushed back after board members asked for more time to review the candidates' qualifications.
“The departments are running very well with deputies,” Prenzler told Minner. “We're taking our time with appointments.”