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updated: 6/5/2014 5:09 PM

Elgin CFO steps down because of residency requirement

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Elgin's Chief Financial Officer Colleen Lavery announced her resignation after five years due to the city's residency requirements.

Lavery, a certified public accountant with a master's degree in business administration, became the city's assistant finance director in 2005 and CFO in 2010. Her last day is June 20.

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She's leaving because she and her husband, a professor at Dominican University in River Forest, want to move closer to his work, Lavery said.

Elgin has a residency requirement for upper-level management. Lavery was given a five-year exemption when she was named CFO.

"They were kind enough to extend it for five years," said Lavery, who earns $142, 897. "(My husband) has been making that commute (from their home in Batavia) for six years so we decided to go ahead and make it less of a commute for him."

The city's code of ordinances allows the city manager to grant the five-year exemption once per person, City Manager Sean Stegall said.

"My guess is that Colleen's departure will initiate further conversations about (the residency requirement)," he said.

Lavery said she's most proud of successfully diversifying the general fund's revenue stream with the addition of taxes such as alcohol, natural gas and utility, thereby reducing the property tax levy.

"The least enjoyable time in my tenure has been the two reductions in workforce initiatives which were undertaken to decrease employee wages and benefits," she said.

Lavery's departure is a big loss for Elgin, Stegall said.

"She really served the community and the city at the highest possible level," Stegall said. "She was fantastic."

The city will begin searching for a new CFO in the coming weeks, but there is no urgency, Stegall said.

"Colleen and I take a lot of pride in that she's got a team of very competent people," he said.

"Along with my background in budget and finance, and along with Assistant City Manager (Rick) Kozal, we'll be able, in the short term, to not miss a beat."

The city is on a positive course financially, with a recovery in sales and income tax revenues after the economic downturn, but her successor will have to deal with the challenges of pension funding, unfunded mandates and threats of reduced income tax sharing from the state, Lavery said.

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