VILLA PARK, Ill. – Local taxpayers would experience relief from paying for expensive pension plans under legislation recently passed out of the House by state Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, which would end the publicly-funded retirement benefits given to part-time DuPage County Forest Preserve board members.
“It’s inappropriate for forest preserve board members to receive taxpayer-funded pensions while other county board members have already had these benefits discontinued,” Conroy said. “As mental health resources, drug and alcohol abuse treatment services and our public universities struggle to stay afloat, we need to prioritize our spending on resources for Illinois residents over retirement plans for part-time board members.”
Throughout most of the state, duties pertaining to forest preserves fall under the jurisdiction of the county board. DuPage is one of few counties in Illinois with a separate paid forest preserve board. Thus, legislation previously supported by Conroy that eliminated pensions for future county board members does not apply to the DuPage County Forest Preserve Board, giving these members an unfair advantage over other boards at the taxpayers’ expense.
House Bill 3908 extends the reforms approved last year for county board members to elected county forest preserve board members, prohibiting future board members from enrolling in the taxpayer-funded Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension system. Current officials will still qualify for pension benefits, but would be required to submit accurate timesheets to ensure that they are putting in the mandatory hours of work required to participate in IMRF.
“DuPage County Forest Preserve members have similar duties to other county board members across the state and therefore should have similar compensation,” Conroy said. “This legislation simply brings the DuPage County Forest Preserve board members in line with people in similar positions throughout Illinois.”