Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting
February 6, 2020
Primary Topic Discussed:
State of Illinois 2020 Legislation Program (Agenda Item 20-0053)
Legislative Initiative #1 of State of Illinois 2020 Legislation Program was unanimously approved. This will amend the District’s act to allow the Board of Commissioners to transfer excess revenue from any source legally available to the pension fund. Currently, there is only statutory authority to transfer property tax and interest income. An example would be if TIF surplus funds were redistributed. These could be transferred to the pension fund. The initiative would provide the Board with flexibility in utilizing excess revenue. A two thirds vote would be required for such action.
Legislative Initiative #2 - was separated from the original agenda item. This initiative would amend the District Act to extend the right to vote for the Board of Commissioners to all registered voters in Cook County. Currently, only voters within the corporate boundaries of the District have this right. The District has legislative authority for stormwater management throughout Cook County. Rationale: to bring the District political boundaries into line.
Other Board Activity:
The MWRD Executive Director gave the quarterly report for the Retirement Fund. (Agenda Item 20-0126)
Observer - Georgia Gebhardt Meeting Length: 2 hours
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting - December 13, 2018
Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget on December 6, 2018
By an 8-0 vote, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation Board took just 15 minutes to approve 11 items which resulted in a $1,203,988,541 budget for 2019. This is $53 million more than 2018, or a 4.6% increase. The property tax levy was raised to $643 million, an increase over 2018 of $20 million, or 3.3%. There was no discussion. (Commissioner Morita was absent.)
Next Step: The Board will consider amendments to the 2019 budget at the December 20 meeting, at which time the 2019 budget will be finalized.
Relevant Comments from December 6 Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget
The 2019 Budget that was passed on December 13 included a number of changes from the Tentative Budget Recommendation by the MWRD Executive Director dated October 13, and additional changes from the 2019 Tentative Budget published on November 20 (which reflected amendments to the October 13 Executive Director’s Recommendation).
At the December 6 Public Hearing, the Civic Federation, while overall supportive of the proposed budget, pointed out how confusing and difficult it is to review and comment on this ever-changing budget. The Civic Federation’s recommendation was that the final form of the budget that is to be considered by the Board should be published and made available to the public ahead of time. This is particularly important, said the Civic Federation, because the version of the budget passed by the Board often includes significant increases in the total appropriations and property tax levy from those contained in the Executive Director’s original recommendation, as well as from the Tentative Budget.
In this case, the version passed by the Board on December 13 varied from both the October 13 and November 20 versions (which is the version the Civic Federation reviewed and commented on) in a number of ways, including:
December 13 October 13 November 20
Total Appropriations: $1,203,988,541 $1,079,658,141 $1,092,299,141
Tax Levy: $ 642,783,809 $ 640,649,270 $ 640,649,270
The Civic Federation also recommended that the MWRD analyze the effect on its pension funding and have fall-back plans in case the District’s pension reform law were to be successfully challenged.
Observer - Priscilla Mims
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Special Study Session – February 23, 2017
Three Items were on the Agenda for Discussion – Presentation by David St. Pierre, Executive Director
Purchase of Farm Land/Nutrient Trading
Survivor Pension Benefits Extension
Proposed Investment Vehicle to maximize income from Leased MWRD Properties
Public Hearing on 2017 MWRD Budget - December 1, 2016
The Civic Federation was the only speaker at this Public Hearing. However, Commissioner Avila at the end of the hearing raised concerns about the process being followed for selecting people for Deputy Director positions.
Laurence Msall, President of the Civic Federation, a non-partisan government research organization, expressed support for the proposed $1.13 billion proposed budget, stating that:
However, Mr. Msall also expressed the concern over the size of the unfunded liabilities under the pension fund, despite the strides that the MWRD has taken and is taking. The Civic Federation’s report on the budget can be found HERE.
While not pertinent to the budget, Commissioner Avila expressed concern that only one person (presumably the Executive Director) was making decisions about who would be hired for Deputy Director positions. Executive Director St. Pierre stated that Deputy Directors are only hired when an existing Director states an intention to retire. When that happens and the Board approves a deputy position, there is a 3-person team who interviews candidates and makes a recommendation as to whom should be hired. President Spyropoulos suggested that the process be circulated for review by the Commissioners. Commissioner Shore pointed out that if any employee feels the process has been unfair, there are procedures in place to deal with any complaints.
Observer - Priscilla Mims
Metropolitan Water Reclamation Board Meeting - June 2, 2016
Study Session on Pension Funding
Study Session on Rain Barrel Program
Executive Director St. Pierre presented an overview of the MWRD free rain barrel program.
Items to watch for in the future::
Observer: Priscilla Mims
Individual authors are credited at the end of each report.