In today’s uncertain economy, saving for retirement – whether you’re an employer or an employee – has never been more important. As the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) celebrates its 70th anniversary, we want to recognize Evanston’s historic position as one of the first communities in the state to guarantee its municipal employees a secure, modest retirement income.

IMRF is a defined benefit public pension fund covering units of municipal government in Illinois. Created by the Illinois General Assembly, the first IMRF board met in downtown Chicago on Sept. 8, 1939. By Jan. 1, 1941, IMRF had five employers: the City of Evanston, City of Galesburg, Village of Riverside, Rockford Park District and the City of Rockford. At a meeting later that year, the board set contribution rates for these five employers. With money flowing from members and employers, IMRF was able to approve their first benefit awards on March 28, 1941.

Ever since, IMRF has helped Evanston and other municipalities attract and retain quality workers — from librarians to school lunch room workers to city planners — who play vital roles in ensuring that your community and others across the state run smoothly by offering them a steady retirement income.

Today, IMRF provides service to more than 2,900 units of government across the state. It has 182,000 active members, including 829 in Evanston, and 89,000 retirees, including 336 in Evanston. With long-term, responsible investment practices and a 100 percent funding goal, IMRF protects its retirees’ pensions. This full-funding goal also enables IMRF to receive more than half (55 percent from 1978-2008) of its funds from investment returns, which ensures the lowest possible taxpayer contribution and makes sure that costs for today’s benefits aren’t passed on to future generations.

Another reason to take pride in Evanston’s historic role in IMRF is the impact public pensions such as IMRF have on the state and local economies. A recent study showed that IMRF produced nearly $1.4 billion in economic activity in the state of Illinois. Additionally, it is estimated that 2 percent of Illinois GDP is tied to the economic impact of public servants, such as IMRF retirees, who retire and choose to stay in the state.

Thanks to the foresight of your predecessors and your City’s consistent commitment, IMRF will continue to support public workers and help ensure that municipalities attract the best talent for the jobs that make our communities tick.