It’s not often that an employee can retire and walk away with severance pay, unless of course you work for the government. It’s a sweet deal for the employee, and probably for the government, otherwise it wouldn’t occur. That’s exactly what happened when the City of Naperville parted ways with its Public Utilities Director of Water. Along with his paid-time-off hours, vacation hours, and sick time pay, he was given a $30,000 severance payment for ‘retiring’. Not bad if you can get it, and you can definitely get it when your work for the City of Naperville.
The definition of ‘severance pay’ is an amount paid to an employee upon dismissal or discharge from employment. The definition of ‘retirement’ does not include the words ‘dismissal’ or ‘discharge’. So which is it. Did the employee retire or was he dismissed/discharged?
Naperville city officials like to use the word ‘transparent’ when it comes to being open with residents about what goes on in the municipal center, and more importantly how tax dollars are spent. It’s obvious city officials are only transparent with what they want to be transparent about. Residents are on a ‘need to know’ basis, and apparently residents don’t need to know why and how this $30,000 was spent.
When Naperville city attorney Mike DiSanto was asked if it was customary for the City to provide severance payments to retiring employees, Disanto had no comment. Openness and communication skills have not been a strength of DiSanto which makes him a perfect match the position he has with the City. Some would say that DiSanto’s self-image is as lofty as his inability to be transparent.
Interestingly, the departed Director of Public Works – Water was recognized numerous times with bonuses for such accomplishments as working as part of a team with other city departments, and maintaining the city’s core values. One would think that would simply be part of the job description for anyone working in the Municipal Center, not something to be recognized with a bonus. Naperville city officials are liberal with bonuses and salary increases, and now severance payments for retiring employees. It’s easy for the city to give away money when it’s not theirs.
Naperville’s water department has had some missteps recently which helped create a $3-million shortfall in the budget if water-rate increases were not inflicted on businesses and residents of Naperville. Some of those missteps (screw-ups) included inaccurate reporting of revenue streams, non-metered water losses not being included, water meter inaccuracies, system leakage, and starting balances not being noted accurately. Other than that, everything was just perfect with the water department.
With Naperville city officials money solves everything. Simply continue to squeeze more out of residents for employee bonuses, severance payments, and hiring outside ‘experts’ and consultants to do the work of city officials, and let the city attorney say ‘move along, there’s nothing to see here’.