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St. Charles Park District resignation letter leaves questions

Ray Ochromowicz
Ray Ochromowicz

ST. CHARLES – A news release announcing the resignation of St. Charles Park District Executive Director Ray Ochromowicz might have misinterpreted what he meant regarding his pension, park board president Karrsten Goettel said Friday.

The April 24 release quotes Ochromowicz as saying, "I will be fully vested in my pension by August and have decided to explore other opportunities." If Goettel were to re-write the release, he said, he would write Ochromowicz is vested with 35 years of service.

"It turns out the word 'fully' … may not have been accurate," Goettel said, adding Ochromowicz told the board he has 35 years of service and will be eligible in August to take advantage of retirement benefits.

The park district's attorney, Robert Kohn, wrote the release and showed it to the board and to Ochromowicz before it was distributed, Goettel said. He said he didn't know who wrote the quote attributed to Ochromowicz.

Goettel said the misinterpretation was not intentional. There was "no intent to provide any misinformation out there," he said.

Repeated attempts to reach Ochromowicz since April 24 have been unsuccessful. Goettel said Friday Ochromowicz was out of town on vacation.

Linda Horrell, communications manager for the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, said in an email that IMRF has two tiers of retirement plans. The tier Ochromowicz likely falls under takes eight years to vest for a pension, she said. Members can retire as early as 55 and receive a reduced pension or, she said, wait until they are 60 to get the full amount.

Members in IMRF's regular plan contribute 4.5 percent of their salary, Horrell said. She said their pension is based on a formula that includes members' years and months of service credit and final average salary.

IMRF cannot provide pension estimate amounts for members who haven't yet retired.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, the Kane County Chronicle obtained Ochromowicz's reported wages and member contributions since 1987, when he worked for the Bolingbrook Park District. His reported wages since 1987 totaled $2,593,240, and his IMRF contributions totaled $116,696.

He worked in Bolingbrook until 2009, when he moved to the Park Ridge Park District, according to the IMRF.

Since he joined the St. Charles Park District in 2011, he has earned $368,554 in wages and has contributed $16,585 to IMRF, according to the agency.

Horrell couldn't say if Bolingbrook will pay for the bulk of his pension.

"If a member has multiple employers, the cost is pro-rated among the employers based upon the member’s service credit with each employer and the member’s final average salary with each employer," she said in an email.

Goettel said the board doesn't have any hard feelings about Ochromowicz resigning after less than three years.

"We knew he had a lot of years of experience when we hired him," he said.

As for finding a new executive director, Goettel said, the park board must first decide whether it wants to handle the search process or hire an outside company to do so.

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