The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund is giving the McHenry County Board a month to prove that its members are working the 1,000 hours a year necessary to qualify for a pension.
In a Monday letter to the County Board, IMRF Director Louis Kosiba asked the county’s human resources director to provide evidence of hours worked, such as attendance logs, calendars and meeting times of the full board and its committees.
Kosiba asked for records from all of 2015 and 2016 to date, and gave the county an April 4 deadline.
The IMRF last year began looking into the County Board’s participation in the pension program, acting on a tip from a local labor union that members were not meeting the requirement.The county sent affidavits last summer from 18 of its 24 members, which satisfied IMRF until state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, approached the fund earlier this year with the same concern.
All but four County Board members are enrolled in IMRF through the county. But the IMRF’s policy manual states that people elected to county, township and municipal boards that have chosen the 1,000-hour threshold likely will not qualify for pensions, “barring highly unusual circumstances.”
Providing documentation for time spent besides the meeting room could present a challenge.
Board members under IMRF rules can count hours spent on preparing for meetings, meeting with constituents and employees, and attendance at civic functions in an official capacity.
Time spent commuting to meetings or being “on call” for constituents cannot be counted. One thousand hours a year adds up to 20 hours a week for 50 weeks.
In a related issue, Franks last week asked State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the issue and whether any crime is being committed. Defrauding IMRF is a Class 3 felony. The state’s attorney’s office acts as the County Board’s legal counsel, so investigating it on its own would constitute a conflict of interest.