The next time Naperville wants to hire a retired employee for a different municipal position, the city council first will have to give its approval.
Council members gave themselves the approval power this week when they passed a resolution in response to a few recent instances in which retired internal candidates were chosen to fill city jobs.
The oversight applies to both public safety retirees looking to move to a city job and to retired city employees who want to move to jobs in police or fire, said Margo Ely, city attorney.
It mainly will create an additional level of scrutiny when retired employees who are receiving a pension from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, the Naperville Police Pension Fund or the Naperville Fire Pension Fund are in consideration for a job that could qualify them for another pension from a different system, council members said.
"This is not an ordinance that would prohibit the hiring of an employee that already has a public retirement program that they're benefiting from. It's just bringing it forward to the council for approval," council member Bob Fieseler said. "We should have this visible to not only the public, but also to us in particular to be able to step in if there's a situation we think would be detrimental to the city and perhaps the public pension system."
The union that represents Naperville police officers spoke out against the oversight requirement when it first was discussed earlier this month, calling it "biased" against retired cops. The union also said the practice could put Naperville's own retired employees at a disadvantage for positions that could be filled by retired workers from other municipalities without city council's specific approval.
Fieseler and council member Steve Chirico responded to the union's concerns during a meeting Tuesday night.
"I don't want the message to be sent here that this is some sort of punishment for Naperville employees because they have done nothing wrong," he said.
If anything, Chirico said, the move to require city council approval of rehires should send a message to the state that further pension reform is necessary to prevent employees legally double-dipping.
There was some discussion of broadening the approval requirement to cover any candidate who already is enrolled in any state pension system -- whether from Naperville or elsewhere -- but council member Joseph McElroy called for a vote before that gained traction. The resolution requiring council approval when a retired Naperville employee is to be rehired passed unanimously.
Still, the police union on Wednesday called the rehiring oversight "hypocritical," for several reasons including: the council last year approved the rehiring of Robert Marshall as police chief after he had worked as both a sworn police officer and assistant city manager; Mayor George Pradel is a retired police officer who was rehired as a civilian community service officer; and the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners -- not the city council -- has true hiring authority for police officers and firefighters.
Ely said there have been seven instances over the past 10 years in which retired employees from the police or fire departments were hired into civilian jobs in police, fire or public work.