Posts Tagged James Eggert

Bradley Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

With the exit of its interim fire chief, the mayor said that Bradley is planning to make changes to improve the fire department, but he did not address questions about who is in charge of the department and what its relationship will be with the neighboring Bourbonnais Fire Protection District. One idea reportedly under consideration is putting Bourbonnais Fire Protection District Chief Ed St. Louis in charge of the Bradley department for the time being.

Six months ago, the village hired Jim Eggert as interim fire chief for six months, telling him he could stay another six months if the village was still searching for a permanent chief. The cost over the six months was $66,000. Eggert’s last day was Friday, yet no new chief has been named. The mayor said the village decided against renewing Eggert’s contract because of its cost.

Throughout the day Tuesday, it was unclear who was in charge of the Bradley Fire Department. At least one member of the department was under the impression that St. Louis had already taken the helm.  Bradley Fire Department Capt. Kevin Goudreau, the union’s president, said he and Capt. Greg Glidewell were in charge until they were told differently. They are the department’s highest-ranking members. On Tuesday night, department employees were scheduled to meet with St. Louis and village officials. Goudreau said St. Louis may well be named the Bradley department’s chief for the time being. He said this may be part of a larger consolidation between the two departments. 

Union members are not opposed to consolidation, but they feel blindsided about the village’s latest actions. If the fire department consolidates with Bourbonnais, it would require a village board vote. With six full-time employees, the department handles 3,000 calls a year, nearly doubling its workload since it became a full-time department 15 years ago. For months, the union has been negotiating with the village for a contract to replace the one that expired April 30.

Recommendations by the Illinois Firefighters Association, which assessed the department in 2005, included a significant increase in staffing, an addition of a second fire station, close cooperation with other fire departments, and improvement of software to measure performance.

Area fire departments help each other with calls. Bradley needs a lot of assistance because of its small staff, so the village appreciates Bourbonnais as a partner. But Bourbonnais wants an agreement where it would handle all calls north of Armour Road which  include a higher percentage of privately insured customers, which mean higher reimbursements.

“We don’t want to turn those calls over because we would be losing revenue,” Goudreau said, and that it would be better if Bourbonnais backed up on calls regardless of the neighborhood.

thanks Dennis

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Actions of fire district board are questioned

The Chicago Sun-Times has an article about retirement bonuses granted by the Tri-State Fire Protection District Board. 

suburban fire board pumped up chiefs’ pensions, promoted trustee’s partner

By KATIE DREWS Better Government Association September 2, 2013 12:00AM

Three weeks after announcing plans to retire as chief of a west suburban fire department in 2004, James Eggert got a going-away present from his bosses: a $7,380 pay raise. That boosted the salary of the Tri-State Fire Protection District chief from $105,420 to $112,800.

Three months later — with two months to go till Eggert’s retirement — the board overseeing the department, which serves parts of Darien, Burr Ridge, Willowbrook and unincorporated DuPage County, handed him another raise. This one was for more than $11,000. That boosted his pay to $124,079 — in all, more than $18,000 in raises in his final months on the job.

Around the same time, the tax-supported Tri-State fire district board agreed to a separation agreement with Assistant Fire Chief James Krohse, giving him a pay raise of more than $10,000 shortly before Krohse resigned.

Their golden-handshake departures pumped up their pensions and also cleared a path for the rise of a battalion chief who is now in a civil union with a member of the board that approved the deals, records and interviews show.

When Eggert and Krohse left, the three-member board elected to oversee the fire protection district promoted Deputy Chief Alan Hagy to fire chief and Battalion Chief Michelle Gibson to deputy chief. Hagy stayed with the department, which is based in Darien, until 2008. He left after the board gave him two raises totaling $17,000 in his final three months on the job. That pushed his pay initially from $115,000 to $121,000 and then to $132,000, records show. He also was given severance pay of $60,000.

Named to replace Hagy as chief: Gibson, who lives with Jill Strenzel, a Tri-State fire board trustee since late 2003. They entered into a civil union last year with a ceremony in Darien, records show. Strenzel was on the board when it approved the late-career raises for Eggert, Krohse and Hagy and voted to promote her partner to chief, according to agency records and interviews.

In a written statement, she and a second fire board trustee, Hamilton “Bo” Gibbons, the board president, who signed the deals, defended their actions. They said the going-away pay hikes were “reasonable given each employee’s service” and were “in the best interest of the district.” Neither would agree to an interview.

Gibson, who is paid $137,887 a year and also is eligible for bonuses, declined to comment, saying, “I cannot burden this district . . . with your questions.”

Eggert, 58, Krohse, 55, and Hagy, 56, also would not comment. They cited confidentiality clauses in their separation agreements. The three men are currently receiving pensions from the district. Their pensions, which are based on their final salaries, go up 3 percent a year.

Eggert’s retirement pay this year will total $107,401, according to Tri-State records. Without the two pay raises he was given in his final months on the job, his pension would be $91,250, based on his final salary, a source confirmed. Eggert also was given a $10,000 severance payment that didn’t count toward his pension.

Krohse’s pension is $77,473, records show. It would have been $69,090 without the late pay hike, based on his final salary, the source confirmed. He also received $25,000 in severance pay, which didn’t count toward his retirement pay.

Hagy’s pension is $113,163, records show. Without the two salary increases he was given in his last three months on the job, he would be getting $98,589 in retirement pay this year.

If the three men each live to age 80, they stand to collect a total of more than $1.5 million in additional pension payouts beyond what they would have been paid without the pay hikes.

State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), whose legislative district includes the fire protection district, calls the pay-hikes-for-“pension spikes” deals “outrageous” and says they “should not be tolerated.” Durkin also is critical of the secrecy surrounding the deals, saying “the use of public funds . . . should never, ever be subject to a confidentiality clause.”

In 2010, the Illinois Department of Insurance, which regulates government pension funds, questioned the amount of Hagy’s pension. In a compliance audit, the department determined that Hagy’s second raise — $11,000 — was part of a written retirement agreement and thus was a retirement incentive, which is not supposed to be considered in calculating a pension under the Illinois Pension Code, according to Kimberly Parker, spokeswoman for the state agency.

Pension boards have up to 35 days to correct any mistakes. But Parker says a lawyer advised the fire pension board not to take any action because the error, made in 2008, wasn’t discovered until 2010, and making a change at that point probably would lead to a costly — and losing — court fight.

thanks Scott

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