Hatcher introduces bill to amend the IL pension code

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Illinois House Rep. Kay Hatcher may have introduced a bill that would save money for taxpayers in small towns, but she credits Elburn Village President Dave Anderson with the idea.

House Bill 1901 amends the Downstate Police and Downstate Firefighters articles of the Illinois Pension Code. Currently, once a municipality reaches a population of 5,000—which Elburn has now done—it is required to pay into the downstate fund. This bill gives first-time eligible municipalities a choice: either follow the statute and pay into the Downstate Police and Downstate Firefighters pension fund, or stay with their current fund, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).

“This gives local communities, in cooperation with fire departments and police departments, a chance to temporarily stay with IMRF, rather than (be required to) move to the downstate pension fund,” Hatcher said. “It’s a chance for everyone to take a deep breath and look if this is the way to go.”

Anderson said that he asked her to sponsor a bill that would allow communities like Elburn to have an option in regards to their police and fire pensions. This bill would only affect the police and not the fire because the fire is a separate taxing district, not a department.

Hatcher said that with the economy tight, communities that break the 5,000-population mark will be helped in their transition, adding that it’s a smart way to handle a crisis.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” she said. “The best part is that it can be reversed whenever (the municipality) wants to. It’s a smart way for the community and its employees to plan for retirement.”

On Feb. 22, the bill was assigned to the Personnel and Pension Committee for consideration.

Anderson said the bill, if passed, will benefit Elburn.

“It will cost taxpayers less money,” he said.