EDWARDSVILLE — Chairman Alan J. Dunstan on Wednesday announced that he will call for a resolution at the Sept. 21 meeting of the Madison County Board to end board members’ participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
“To reduce the cost of pensions and save taxpayers money, it is time for the Madison County Board to end its participation in IMRF,” Dunstan said. “I think it is important the board addresses this issue now rather than leaving it to the new board, which will be seated in December.”
Dunstan has been a leading advocate for pension reform. In 1997, he voted against the inclusion of Madison County in the Elected County Officials Fund and in 2004 supported legislation that allowed the county board to vote to withdraw from the fund.
In 2009, the chairman was one of the leaders of the effort to pass legislation at the state level creating the two-tier IMRF pension system, which has significantly reduced pension costs for Madison County and other local governments.
The chairman said now is the time to take the next step and end board members’ participation in the retirement program. “My recommendation to end board members’ participation in IMRF is not an action against the members of the Madison County Board; it is a move which will benefit county taxpayers and put Madison County in compliance with the legislation (Senate Bill 2701) recently passed by the Illinois Legislature,” Dunstan said.
“The Democratic and Republican members of the Madison County Board work very hard and put in a significant number of hours on behalf of their constituents. As part of their nominal compensation, county board members were, by law, entitled to enroll in IMRF,” Dunstan said.
“Importantly, the members of the Madison County Board do not serve because of the retirement fund, they serve to help the people of our county and to make Madison County the best-managed county in the state, which I believe it is,” Dunstan said. “I don’t think there will a single board member who will oppose ending participation in IMRF.”
Senate Bill 2701 eliminates participation in the pension program for any future county board members. For current board members who participate in IMRF, the county board would be required to pass a resolution to opt back into IMRF within 90 days of each election. Dunstan’s action would end IMRF for all board members with the seating of the county board on Dec. 1. A study conducted by IMRF estimated that by 2018, half of the membership in the pension plan will be new members admitted under the revised two-tier regulations, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.
“This will go a long way in reducing the cost of public pensions for Madison County, as well as property tax dollars that are used to pay the benefit,” Dunstan said.
Unlike the state of Illinois pension program, the IMRF mandates local governments to every year make 100 percent of the required payments. In 2015, external auditors indicated Madison County’s IMRF pension plan was 95 percent funded and in strong financial condition.
Under Dunstan’s leadership, Madison County is debt-free, has a Triple A credit rating and annually operates within a balanced budget. Dunstan has reduced the county’s portion of the property tax bill the last two years.
Through Dunstan’s efforts to work with local leaders and the business community, Madison County has enjoyed significant new job growth and has added more than 6,500 new jobs.