O’Fallon City Council opts out of IMRF participation

O’FALLON, Ill. — Council members in the City of O’Fallon have won a small victory for public accountability — although there was never a battle to begin with.

The 14-member panel voted unanimously earlier this month to end its participation in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which offered pension benefits to retired council members and other municipal officials according to their years of service and total hours they worked annually, even if they only worked part time.

Mayor Gary Graham said he and many others in O’Fallon, where the council only serves part time, long felt the IMRF program needed fixing.

Graham said pension funds should be for people who work 32 hours a week, period, the same as the health insurance.

Graham and Administrator Walter Denton each confirm that even through O’Fallon never had any problems with the IMRF; reports a few years ago about how other municipalities in the state had erroneously enrolled for-hire city attorneys in the program left O’Fallon officials re-evaluating their participation in the program.

One of the largest public employee pension systems in the state IMRF is now questioning whether Elk Grove Village’s mayor and five of its trustees work enough hours to be eligible for pensions.

A three-page letter sent by the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund’s general counsel to village officials asks for documentation showing elected village board members work at least 1,000 hours a year — the threshold to be eligible for a pension.

And if not, IMRF asks the board to adopt a resolution abolishing their participation in the pension fund.