Local taxpayers exposed as Illinois local governments lose control over pension eligibility
The same day the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) ruled that the Maine Township Board was right when it voted not to certify the pension eligibility of a politically connected elected official, it stripped all local governments of the authority to certify the pensions of their elected officials.
“This hardly seems like a coincidence,” Township Trustee Susan Sweeney told Wirepoints. “The IMRF’s ruling in favor of Maine Township was a win for taxpayers and local control, then they took that control away from the township and governments across the state.”
An IMRF spokesman did not respond to a phone call or email request for comment on the timing of the pension ruling and the approval of its new policy. The elected official is Maine Township Assessor Susan Moylan Krey, ex-wife of State Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines).
In August 2017, Sweeney voted with board members David Carrabotta and Claire McKenzie not to certify the assessor’s position, arguing that the duties of assessor do not meet the 1,000 hour-a-year threshold for pension eligibility.
But in January 2018 the three trustees discovered that Krey was reinstated into the pension system after the general counsel for IMRF contacted Township Supervisor Laura Morask asking why Krey was decertified. Morask reportedly told IMRF that she did not know why, and Krey was reinstated.
According to Wirepoints, Morask never informed the three trustees that she was in communication with the IMRF concerning Krey’s pension. Learning of the reinstatement, the three trustees voted to appeal it, and on May 17 all eight IMRF board members agreed that the township was right not to certify.
But under the IMRF’s new policy approved the same day, an elected official can go through an IMRF agent for certification – Supervisor Morask in the Maine Township case – and bypass the board. Morask submitted forms to the IMRF on Krey’s behalf, but attorney Mary Dickson told the board at its Tuesday night meeting that any reinstatement would be “in error.” The forms submitted by Morask do not conform with the IMRF’s new policy, she said.
The policy change covering the pensions of elected officials could cost local taxpayers thousands more to fund public pensions.
“The new IMRF resolution could impact the bottom lines of township governments who end up disagreeing with the IMRF on the certification of their officials,” Wirepoints said. “Granting pension benefits to an elected township employee (usually a township supervisor, clerk, assessor or highway commissioner) requires a township to pay employer contributions to the fund, potentially adding thousands of dollars in additional costs to its budget. Now the ultimate decision to incur those costs is in the hands of the IMRF board, not locally elected township board members.”