A newly approved employment contract with the director of the village’s Department of Public Health and Safety – effectively the building department – is expected to speed his retirement.
As an incentive to an early departure, the village has agreed to pay for health insurance for both the director and his spouse for several years after his expected retirement. The terms of the agreement are unprecedented in Forest Park, according to Mayor Anthony Calderone, and represent how municipal leaders are being creative in saving taxpayers money.
According to the contract, made public under the state’s Freedom of Information laws, Director Bob Teets and his wife will have their health insurance premiums paid by the village until they are both 65 years old. Teets, 64, has been an employee with the village for 37 years. While he is currently the head of the department, until last fall he served as a building inspector. His wife is not a municipal employee and won’t reach the age of 65 until March 2013.
As a building inspector his seniority and union membership made him one of the highest paid employees at village hall. Teets was earning a salary of $86,930 at the time he was promoted in November.
The sooner Teets retired, said Calderone, the sooner the village could bring in a new building inspector whose starting salary of $41,000, as negotiated by the union, would represent a significant savings.
“This is the incentive” for the village to extend his benefits and encourage Teets to retire, said Calderone. “We are saving more than half.”
Assuming a 4.5 percent annual increase in the couple’s health insurance premiums, village officials expect to spend $26,282 by the time Teets’ wife reaches 65. Built into Teets’ new contract is a retirement date of May 1, 2010, though Calderone speculated that it could happen sooner.
The village anticipates hiring a permanent building department director as well as a new inspector, and is preparing to solicit applications for the department head position.
The extended health benefits were pitched by Teets during negotiations, said Calderone, and initially the mayor balked at the idea. Without an incentive to retire, Teets planned to continue working until his wife’s 65th birthday.
“This is definitely stepping outside of the box,” Calderone said of the deal. “I was very frank with Bob and said I was going to look at the math. In this case, the math makes sense.”
Now, as the director, Teets is collecting an additional $1,000 a month, putting his salary at $98,930, according to the contract. That pay was made effective retroactive to Aug. 1 when Teets assumed the director’s title on an interim basis. As a result of the promotion he is no longer a member of the employee union.
Teets’ contract was approved by the village council with a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Marty Tellalian cast the dissenting vote.