Two recent pieces of legislation have been adopted into law that will impact the manner in which Illinois units of local governments release public employee salary and compensation information to their taxpayers.
Public Funds Statement Publication
Act - Short Form Publication
Effective January 1, 2012, Public Act 97-0146 provides municipalities, fire protection districts, and other units of local government with tangible savings by reducing required legal publications and publication rates. Among several changes in P.A. 97-0146, is an amendment to the Public Funds Statement Publication Act. (30 ILCS 15/0.01 et seq. (the “Act”) Fire district trustees and administrators often refer to this document as the annual “Treasurer’s Report” and by now most of our readers should be familiar with the Act’s requirement of listing all monies received during the fiscal year, all monies paid out to vendors where the aggregate amount paid during the fiscal year exceeds $2,500 as well as the ever popular rote listing of all employees names and salary groupings as set forth in the Act. (30 ILCS 15/1) Further, the Treasurer’s Report is required to be subscribed and sworn to by the District Treasurer and filed in the county clerk’s office within six months after the expiration of the fiscal year. These requirements remain in place and have not been removed from the Act.
What has been removed is the requirement to publish the report in “an English language newspaper published in the town, district or municipality in which such public officer holds his office, or, if no newspaper is published” [in the district] “then in a newspaper printed in the English language published in the county in which the public officer holds his or her office.” (30 ILCS 15/2) Instead, a fire protection district that: (1) has had its annual audit drafted by a certified public accountant, (2) has filed the audit report with the appropriate county clerks, and (3) has published a one-time notice of availability of the audit report “in an English language newspaper published in the town, district, or municipality in which the public officer holds his or her office,” need not publish the entire Treasurer’s Report. (30 ILCS 15/2)
Note that fire protection districts that are not required to perform an annual audit as permitted under Section 6.1 of the Fire Protection District Act (70 ILCS 705/6.1) are not excused from the publication requirement set by the Act. Do not forget the potential for criminal misdemeanor penalties that may be imposed against any public officer who fails, neglects or refuses to discharge any of the duties imposed under the Act.
The Act clearly states what must be included within the “notice of availability.” At a minimum, the notice must include (1) the time period covered by the audit, (2) the name of the firm conducting the audit, and (3) the address and business hours of the location where the audit report may be publicly inspected. Suffice to say, publishing the notice of availability will require far fewer words and, therefore, less publication expense than publishing the entire Treasurer’s Report. Please do not hesitate to contact your attorney in the event you require a template or have questions about the new requirement.
IMRF Employer - Total Compensation Posting Requirement
Public Act 97-609 created two new posting requirements for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) employers. First, employers are required to post the “total compensation package” (“TCP”) for every employee earning a TCP of more than $75,000 in a fiscal year within six days after approval of the employer’s budget and appropriations ordinance. Second, the TCP for any employee with a TCP of more than $150,000 in a fiscal year must be posted at least six days before the TCP is approved.
The “total compensation package” includes payment to an employee for salary, health insurance, housing, vehicle allowance, clothing allowance, bonuses, loans, and vacation and sick days granted. Some municipalities have created a spreadsheet format documenting other items such as pension contributions and life insurance premium payments. All postings should be made on the employer’s website or, if no website is available, the document must be posted at a visible location at the employer’s principal place of business.
Fire protection districts that are IMRF employers must have this information ready for posting on the web or in the fire station for this year’s budget & appropriations cycle. This then begs the following question: “what is an IMRF employer?” In short, an IMRF employer is any public employer who has any employees in the IMRF pension system. If your district has no employees in IRMF, this new law will not apply to your fire district. If your district has just one IMRF employee or retiree, P.A. 97-609 will apply to you.
The second question is whether the posting requirements apply only to employees in IMRF or all the employees of the fire protection district. It is IMRF’s position that the posting requirements apply to all the employees of an IMRF employer, even if the employee is not an IMRF participant. Others in the state have taken the position that the posting requirement only applies to employees who participate in IMRF. Because there is an ambiguity in the application of this new law, the most conservative route is that IMRF employers should take the more inclusive position and post the TCP for all employees falling under the new law, regardless of an employee’s status as an IMRF participant. We will wait to see if the Illinois General Assembly clarifies this in the future; but we urge full compliance in the meantime for all employees of an IMRF employer.
Both of these statutes contain ambiguities. Do not hesitate to call your attorney with any questions you might have on either of these new legal requirements.