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Promotion avoids Bloomington's third largest accelerated pension payment to IMRF
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Bloomington pensions

Promotion avoids Bloomington's third largest accelerated pension payment to IMRF

Her spike caused the highest accelerated payment statewide — $358,394.

IMRF spokesman John Krupa confirmed Friday that Bloomington's $358,394 accelerated payment in May 2015 still remains the highest ever paid statewide.

On Friday, City Manager Tim Gleason stressed eliminating the estimated accelerated payment for Kothe was not why he promoted the city engineer to public works director, effective Feb. 2.

"I didn't know what the accelerated payment amount was until this week," said Gleason. "I just knew that it would be a sizable amount. Kevin Kothe had signaled his intention to retire by April 30.

"But the reason Kevin Kothe was selected as public works director is his experience, the leadership qualities that he has. He is well respected within the organization and externally," added the city manager.

Kothe said the sick leave reimbursement was an advertised benefit at the time he joined the city some 32 years ago.

“They (the city) advertised it when I applied for the job,” Kothe said. “I’ve only used sick time a few times, usually when someone in the family needed me there for an illness.”

To discourage the pension spikes, a state law enacted in 2012 required municipalities to make immediate accelerated payments to the IMRF for people whose compensation spiked more than 6 percent.

Employees who wanted to retire under the city's current structure had to give notice by Oct. 31, 2019, and retire by April 30, 2020.

Kothe had considered retirement and would've been eligible for sick leave buyback. Kothe's continued employment means the city will not have pay an accelerated payment.

After April 30, employees will still be paid for unused sick leave and vacation days after they retire, but it is not part of their pension calculations, said Bloomington Communication Manager Nora Dukowitz.

"It just will not be eligible for that (end-of-career) payment that has that huge impact to the city," added Gleason.

Gleason said he expects to begin in the next month negotiating that benefit out of  labor contracts with the union that represents 36 water division employees.

In his new role, Kothe will make $144,745, an increase from $120,762. The salary of his former boss, Jim Karch, will move to $115,000 from $144,745.

"Given his integrity and the respect he has in the community, Kevin probably could have retired, collecting his IMRF pension," said Gleason. "And I am sure he would have had, if not already, consulting opportunities and could have made more than as my public works director now. I think that speaks to one of the many reasons why I selected him as public works director. He is very dedicated to the city of Bloomington."

Karch, who joined the city in 2000 and became public works director in 2009, will move to the new position of special projects manager.

Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

"Given his integrity and the respect he has in the community, Kevin probably could have retired, collecting his IMRF pension. And I am sure he would have had, if not already, consulting opportunities and could have made more than as my public works director now. I think that speaks to one of the many reasons why I selected him as public works director. He is very dedicated to the city of Bloomington."

Tim Gleason, Bloomington city manager

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