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updated: 12/2/2010 5:03 PM

Water reclamation chief would lose $73,000

Director says he'll retire early to avoid reduced severance payouts

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Richard Lanyon, executive director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, stands to lose about $73,000 under new severance policies.

That's why the 47-year veteran of the agency that handles wastewater for the Chicago area says he plans to quit his $254,000-a-year job if the policies aren't reversed. The new policies go into effect Jan. 1. If they're not changed, Lanyon said he plans to resign Dec. 16.

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District officials had initially reported that Lanyon would lose out on 45 days pay because of the policy changes, but they revised that figure Thursday to 75 days pay. The discrepancy comes from a change to the sick-day payout policy, which gives money to departing employees for unused sick days. Officials initially said Lanyon would lose 15 days of pay for sick days he's accrued if he waits until after Jan. 1 to retire, but actually he would lose 45 days in compensation for unused sick time.

Lanyon stands to lose another 30 days of pay under a "termination pay" policy that allows departing employees to receive up to 30 days of pay, one day for each year worked.

Taking into account a five-day workweek, Lanyon's salary works out to be $973.18 a day. That amounts to $72,988.51 for the 75 days he would lose.

Water reclamation board President Terry O'Brien said the board recently voted to end termination pay and reduce sick-day payouts to a maximum of 15 days, down from 60, to combat current "tough economic times."

The 73-year-old Lanyon said he would continue on with the agency if the board reversed its decisions on the financial benefits at any of its three meetings planned before Dec. 16. He said he was planning to retire in 2012. Lanyon said a number of longtime district employees could be exiting as well because of the new policies.

"I'm certainly not the only one affected by this," he said.

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