Once again our taxpayers are called upon to pay excessive costs in salaries and retirement plans that have been passed by our state and federal legislators.
The County Board of Jefferson County, in December 2004, was called upon to make decisions concerning the fiscal well being of this county. I was fortunate to be in that group of members that placed a high priority on the solvency of Jefferson County and it soon became known that this task would be unpopular and very time consuming as the board faced illegal loans, unpaid bills of $1 million and no way to pay for the jail that had just opened a few months before.
The first action of that new board was the use of funds from other accounts and then the passing of a 1/2 per cent safety tax to satisfy the jail bonds. One-quarter per cent would be used to pay all outstanding debts and the large loan from a local bank made by a previous board without collateral.
One of the most surprising benefits that we found was a program designed and passed by the State of Illinois that would guarantee county elected officials a substantial retirement that would also be extremely expensive to the tax paying public. The program was referred to as the ECO, Elected County Official Retirement plan that would require the county to pay a premium of 38 per cent of the official’s monthly salary into this plan. These funds would then be invested by a board of directors at the state level and any time the funds did not produce the necessary income to satisfy the pay out in this fund, the taxpayers of the counties using the retirement fund would be called upon to increase the premium from 38 per cent to a percentage that would be sufficient to meet the demands of the fund.