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South Jacksonville fixes retirement fund concern

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South Jacksonville officials say a violation of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund has been corrected. 

The employee’s employment was found to violate a fund policy that a retired employee can only work up to 1,000 hours while claiming pension benefits, village Mayor Tyson Manker said. 

“Today, the village of South Jacksonville notified the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund legal division that the previous administration was … violating IMRF regulations that prevent retirees from working more than 1,000 hours while receiving retirement benefits,” Manker said in a release. 

Manker said the former village administration was violating the policy by improperly paying the employee. 

“In practice, the Harry Jennings administration intentionally skirted this regulation by compensating a village employee with ‘off-the-books’ payments in order to avoid the annual IMRF hourly-work limit,” the release said. “Mayor Manker ended this practice immediately. The employee in question no longer works for the village of South Jacksonville.” 

Former village President Harry Jennings said at no time during his term at president was he aware of any wrongdoing with the employee’s retirement fund. Everything was done through the fund coordinator, he said. 

“The employee in question, his hours were limited to 1,000 hours,” Jennings said. “When I took office in 2017, his schedule was explained to me. It was something set up by the IMRF coordinator before I took office. She ensured us it was on the up and up. Some time later she (the IMRF coordinator) used said employee’s schedule to justify a significant raise for him. She explained it to the entire board in a meeting. As far as I or any other elected official knew, it did not violate any rules.” 

Manker did not return calls or emails Monday.