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updated: 5/29/2013 1:41 PM

Lombard offers early retirement to save money

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Nine Lombard employees will have stepped down by the end of this week under an early retirement incentive the village is offering through the municipal employee pension system.

Lombard is allowing some employees to retire early as a cost-saving measure during a one-year window ending next March 15, Finance Director Tim Sexton said.

Of the 40 veteran employees who are eligible, roughly half are within the village's public works department, which already has seen three of its members retire.

Sexton said those eligible to retire early must be at least 50 years old and have at least 20 years of service as tracked by the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. They also must pay a portion of their salary determined by their age so they can begin receiving pension benefits before the usual minimum age of 55.

The village also must contribute to the municipal retirement fund for each employee who chooses to retire early, but its cost will be determined by an actuary, according to a memo from Lombard's human resources department.

Sexton said the village had considered offering an early retirement program in the past, but "it didn't make financial sense."

A couple pension and salary changes in recent years positioned the village to benefit at this point from letting veteran employees retire early, and trustees approved the yearlong program in December.

Sexton said a two-tiered pension system for municipal employees that became effective in January 2011 decreased the amount the village must contribute to the system for new hires. And in the most recent contract with the union that represents Lombard public works employees, the starting salary for new maintenance workers was reduced 15 percent to about $40,000 from roughly $46,000.

"That made it much more attractive and it actually made financial sense at this point," Sexton said.

Public works has seen the highest turnover under the early retirement program with three longtime employees stepping down this month, including John Bratschun, who had 31 years experience as a maintenance worker in the streets division; Dan Simonds, a 34-year public works veteran; and Kent Hilgers, who retired as a civil engineering technician after 31 years.

Communications coordinator Joelyn Kott will retire Friday, becoming the ninth employee to end a career with the village under the program.

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